The thing that gives it some plausibility, was that the slaves supposedly grew it to feed themselves and after that the slave owners realized what a market they had there. The original intent was not that the slaves grew it for the market, but that it was more of a serendipity kind of thing for the slave owners.
Having said all this, I am equally disgusted by the mockery I continue to read, on many threads about the past treatment of African slaves brought to this country. This should never have been done. I condemn those in Africa who sold their own people (as well as enslaved them themselves) as well as those persons and business owners who had no objection to enslaving others to provide them with lifes of comparative ease and/or to increase their own profits.
Such people and business owners continue to exist in our own society today: it is now the illegal aliens who are treated as slaves, much as I find their presence here disgusting, as they are lawbreakers who receive benefits to which they are not entitled.
Having said that.....I came upon the following article (I don't know who the writer is, or his bent, and have not throughly read the entire piece), which I found interesting:
During its experimental stage, planters grew rice primarily in river swamps around Charles Town. In 1700, they exported 330 tons of rice from Charles Town to England and the West Indies. Edward Randolph, Collector of Customs for the Southern Department of North America, wrote a letter to the same board explaining, "They have now found out the true way of raising and husking Rice. There has been above 300 Tons shipped this year to England besides about 30 Tons more to the Islands." During the spring of 1700, the governor of Carolina wrote a letter to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations explaining the problems that Carolina experienced due to the overproduction of rice. He wrote, we "hath made more rice ye Last Cropp then we have Ships to Transport." [NOTE: there is no mention that slaves caused or created such rice productions or technology by this point]
By the 1730s, the major influx of slaves into South Carolina was from the west coast of Africa. Planters preferred Africans from Angola, the Gambia River area, the Windward Coast and the Gold Coast, although some slaves, mostly prisoners of inter-tribal warfare, came from as far as 700 miles into the interior of the Africa. In the coastal regions, rice growing had been a dominant part of African culture since 1500 BC. Tribal members "recruited" and sold most of the slaves for trade with Europeans. The most common reasons for selling tribal members to the Europeans were for offenses against society, such as murder or theft, offenses against the king, or even personal or tribal misfortunes such as indebtedness or tribal famine. Slave brokers, along the coastal regions of Africa, often trained future slaves in rice fields similar to those in which they would work in the new world. The sale of human lives was profitable for African tribal kings and the European traders as well as the colonial planters.
By 1730, two-thirds of South Carolina's population was slaves...