Royal agricultural and commercial society of Briti.

Timehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana online

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crop, and have another well established, which covers
preliminary heavy work in levelling down, &c, &c.

Mr. McPhail, to whom I am indebted for the follow-
ing figures, writes as follows: — "The first year when
the beds have to be levelled, this process alone costing
$16 and $20, they only secure one full crop, though the
second is well established. It is fair to take up the working
expenses at this stage, and I may add that the farmers
who have prepared the land best are the most willing to
pay rent pun6lually. The land with stubble is burnt off
and hoed up, and converted into a proper puddle for
receiving the rice plants, which are grown in a nursery.

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Rice. 113

Such a nursery can be prepared for 82 cents. Nine strong
women or very ordinary lads can dibble one acre in a
day, and the same number can reap the grain with
ordinary grass knives. The birds are kept off by scare-
crows, and children knock a tin pan, for which an allow-
ance of $1 20 per acre may be allowed ; weeding and
burying the grass and other stray plants, $1 50 per acre ;
heading, carrying to barn, threshing and dressing for
market, including sack, 15 cents per bag. Thus summing
up 1 acre 1 crop : —

i Bag rice, preparing nursery $ o 8a

Cutting and burning stubble 2 oo

Hoeing up the seed bed 2 oo

Dibbling from nursery, 9 women 24 cents 2 16

Weeding young crop 1 25

Driving birds &c 1 47

Reaping, men at 24 cents I 90

Heading to barn, threshing, dressing and bags, 20 1
boys at 15 cents ... ,

) 3 00

Cost on crop $ 14 60

3 crops, one year's expenses


Total cost per acre

By 3 crops, at 20 bags each, 60 at $2

Clear gain $ 53 16

This leaves a fair margin of profit for the labour
expended and I feel well within the mark in all my

I think these figures show that I was warranted in
stating that "given water, rice can be grown in British
Guiana to drive out the imported article." I have
carefully studied the question of rice growing as far as I


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1*4 TlMEHRI.

can find it laid down in books, and while 2 crops in a
year is considered a wonderful yield in China, Japan,
India, America and elsewhere, here we have well
authenticated records of 3 crops in the year, and if
ratoon crops were taken into account it would raise the
return to 5 crops. Twenty-three dollars rent per annum is
out of all proportion to the selling value of land. Mul-
tiply that sum by 75,000 acres in cane cultivation,
$1,728,000 ? If the land owners could realize half that sum
by their canefields, there would be no cry ot hard times.

Turning to improvements in threshing and dressing
grain, my friend Mr. CORNISH has suggested certain
minor appliances to deal with the rice in small quantities
for local consumption which I have sent for. There have
been no end of patents for cleaning rice, but all seem to
fail. I have myself introduced one machine by WILSON
of London which played such havoc with the rice that it
had to be given up. The late Mr. Oliver introduced a
card machine shod with bent steel wire fixed into a band,
which ran at a high velocity against a plain roller ; but
this also failed. So I am afraid there is no high road to
rice cleaning. It must just be subjefted to mill stones for
breaking the rough crust and then to stamps, such as are
in use in large rice cleaning faftories in Europe; where
by the way, all rice is received from the East in the paddy
state, as the husk prevents destru6lion by weevils.

The following description of rice preparation is from
De Bow's Review, and embraces the most complete
treatment of the subject that I have come across ; —

Process of Preparation.— The stones which are used for grinding rice
should be five to six feet two inches diameter, and eighteen inches thick
at the centre.

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Rice. 115

" The whole process of preparation may be described as follows :
From a shed attached to the mill house the rough rice is taken by means
of elevators up to the highest apartment in the building, to be passed
through a sand screen revolving nearly horizontally, which in sifting out
the grit and small grain rice, separates also all foreign bodies and such
heads of rice as were not duly threshed.

" From the sand screen the sifted rough of large size t is conveyed
directly to the stones on the same floor, where the husk is broken and
ground off, thence to a wind-fan below, where the chaff is separated and
blown off. The grain is now deposited in a long tin placed over the
pestle shaft, and corresponding in length with it, whence the ground
rice is delivered by wooden conductors into the mortars on the ground
floor. These mortars are constructed of four pieces of the heart of pine
seasoned. They are in figure a little more than a semi -ellipsoid and
are made to contain four and a half bushels of ground rice each.

" The pestles, also constructed of the heart of pine and corresponding
in number and position with the mortars, are sheathed at foot with sheet
iron, partially perforated from within by some blunt instrument, so as to
resemble the rough surface of a grater. They are intended to weigh
each 240 to 28ofi>s. or thereabout, are lifted by levers six feet long
attached to the large pestle shaft, and make about forty -five strokes in a
minute. A mortar of rice is sufficiently pounded in one hour and forty
minutes to two hours. The grain thus pounded is again elevated to the
upper floor to be passed through a long horizontal rolling screen
slightly depressed at one end, where by a system of grading wire-sieves,
becoming coarser and coarser towards the lower end, are separated first
the flour, second the small rice, third the middling rice, fourth and last
the prime rice which falls through the largest web, and forthwith
descends to the polishing or brushing screen below, whence it descends
through a fan into the barrel on the first floor, where it is packed, and
the preparation is completed. The head rice or largest grains of all,
together with rough unbroken by the stones, passes off at the lower end
of the screen to be pounded over.

" The brushing screen consists of a vertical cylinder or drum, two
feet in diameter, by from four and a half to six feet in height, to the
surface of which are attached, vertically, shreds of sheepskin closely
packed ; this drum is made to revolve with great velocity within and
lightly brushing a cylindrical frame of iron wire made into a fine sieve
In passing down spirally between this clothed drum and the exterio,

P 2

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Cylindrical wire sieve, the grains are relieved of the particles of flour,
which still adhere to them, and which are brushed off by the wool and
forced out through the meshes of the wire. The rice thus brushed
clean and polished against the wire is packed into barrels constructed of
pine staves to contain six cwt. net. The middling and small rice is
passed through a fan which blows off from the flour into an apartment
kept for that purpose."

In this colony the Chinese have introduced a sort of
"quern" with stones, where such can be found; and
when not they make a circular casting in clay similar in
appearance to a centrifrugal machine, letting in pieces of
hardwood in such a way that when the centre revolves,
rice falls between the outer casing and revolving centre,
and the husk is partially broken. Then it is winnowed ;
the clean rice separated, and grain with husk only
cracked is transferred to mortar and pestle, which is an
ordinary foo-foo mortar sunk in the ground a&ed upon
by a shod pestle with ferule proje&ing a little below the
wood. The pestle is fixed into a solid beam and this is
again fixed on a pivot with the determination of weight
towards the mortar. A man or woman at the far end of
this lever by means of the foot depresses that end, when
the other end rises in like proportion and is then allowed
to drop with force upon the rice. Another winnowing,
and the rice is ready for market. Wfyen brown rice is
the aim, the paddy is scalded with boiling water. This
swells the grain, and in drying the skin cracks and
leaves the kernel much easier to clean than when white
rice is the aim. Of course the oil stains the grain, hence
brown colour.

In a paper of this nature, treating of such an important
agricultural produft, it is proper that some allusion
should be made to the area of land available for prose-

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Rice. 117

cuting the industry. I might spread my hands along the
entire delta, from Corentyn to Barima, and say, wherever
water can be stored against drought for purposes of
irrigation, there rice can be grown to advantage.

The lower Essequibo coast may be now looked upon
as the centre of the industry. Coming further up
to that grand well-watered distrift embraced by the
Itooribiscie and Supenaam Creeks, rice growing has
already taken hold ; but the want of water in times of
drought causes it to languish. Place barrages across
those two creeks, and cause the water to spread along
the face of the distrift as now so well accomplished on
the Boerasirie on the West Coast, and the Lama and its
tributaries on the East Coast, and the finest rice fields in
the world would be opened up. Huist-te-Dieren was
selefted for a coolie settlement, simply because of its
proximity to the Itooribiscie, and the natural formation
of the land along the whole of that estate, and that dis- '
tridl, which is laid off in terraces by ancient tidal a6lion»
affording swamps suitable for rice cultivation, alternately
with bands of high loamy land fit for the growth of
vegetables calling for drained soil.

The distri6ls embraced by Mahaicony and Abary Creeks
are exa6lly the same ; and allusion has already been made
to the praiseworthy start made by the East Indian pro-
prietors of Novar and Dundee.

The Canje Creek has long been noted for the superior
quality of rice grown on its banks high up country.
Within the last few years, the abandoned estate Prospett
has been taken up by Indian rice growers, and con-
sidering the meagre supply of water at their command,
they have done wonders, and now with a supply of fresh

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water from beyond the salt-water compartment of the
creek, the whole of the abandoned estates on the right
bank will be fit for rice.

From the valuable reports which are furnished to the
Agricultural Bureau of the United States by their consu-
lar agents from all parts of the world, I cannot forbear
transmitting the concise report of the Honorable
HORACE CAPRON, written in 1873 on rice culture in
Japan, as it is so analogous in many respefts to what one
finds in the rice gardens of this colony, especially those
belonging to the Chinese. I have not been to Hopetown,
Camoonie Creek, for years now ; but when last there the
surface of the land and work done was exadtly as des-
cribed as prevailing in Japan.

The concluding paragraph of this report is so to the
point that I copy it. There is nothing in all the agri-
culture of our country that can compare with Japan. The
grand secret is, drainage, irrigation, economy and use
of fertilizers, and thorough tillage :—

" Rice is the staple crop of Japan. In the present state of the census
reports it is impossible to give the exa& acreage of rice. The report of
1870 places the number of acres at 8,000,000. Whether the area devoted
to cultivation is increasing or not, it is impossible to tell. The produc-
tion has been controlled entirely in the past by the home demand.
Now, that the Imperial edi& forbidding its export has been repealed,
the production will be stimulated by the world's demand.

" The last • Red Book' of the Tycoon gives the total income of
the Daimios, which was always paid in rice, at 6,000,000,000 pounds,
or 111,000,000 bushels. This did not include the income of the
Mikado's court at Kieto, for the support of which the income of the five
richest provinces of the Empire was set apart. Thus the rice product
was able to pay a tax of from seven to eight billions annually. Ninety-
five per cent, of the rice of Japan is low-land rice ; almost the whole of
the valley land is devoted to rice growing. It is the richest soil, and is
the best adapted to irrigation. The land is divided into small lots,

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Rice. 119

scarcely ever more than an acre in one lot/ and often less than one
quarter that amount, and banked. This is thoroughly levelled, so as to
be entirely flooded. All the soil removed in levelling is put on a lesser
space adjoining, which is planted in vegetables. The rice-ground is
thoroughly flooded over several times, on different days, in April, after
which it is dug up with a heavy hoe. This hoe or spud is unlike any
civilized implement. The blade is about x6 inches long and 4 inches
wide, and will weigh from 6 to 8 pounds. The handle is 5 feet long.
With a powerful blow it is sunk the full length of the blade into the
soft soil, and with the long leverage of the handle a large amount of
earth is lifted up and turned over. This process is slow, but it leaves
the soil in a much better condition than can any plow. At 12^ cents as
the whole cost of a days labour, it does not cost much more to dig up
an acre of tilled land to this depth than it does to plow an acre
with us. In May, the seed-rice— about one and a half bushels* is put
upon an acre — is first sown upon a small piece of ground. The 5th
day of June is the national thanksgiving (transplanting) day when these
thickly sown stalks are pulled up and transplanted in the rice paddy*
where it is grown, the soil having been prepared by thorough flooding,
till it is completely saturated. After the transplanting it is again
flooded, and while in this condition 800 pounds of rape seed oil cake, or
sardine oil cake thoroughly pulverized, and costing $8 to $12, is sown to
the acre. The water is then turned off, leaving this soaked fertilizer at
the root of the rice stalks. After frequent flooding during the summer ,
it is harvested in October. It is cut with a sickle something like a corn-
knife, bound in bundles, and carried to high grounds, dried, and threshed
at leisure, or rather shelled by drawing the heads of a small handful
through a crude heckle. The cleaning or winnowing is done by pouring
the rice from a basket or bucket upon mats by one person, while another
fans it with a large paper fan.

All this work of cutting, binding, shelling, and cleaning is done by
women, who, while cutting and binding, stand bare-legged in the
water 10 to 12 inches deep. The rice is then put into small straw bags,
about 130 lbs in each, and sent to the mills on the backs of men or
horses, where it is hulled by water-power, or by the primitive mortar
and pestle worked by the feet. From the interior, horses are used to
carry the rice, 300 pounds being the average load to a horse. A good
horse, with a man to lead him, will earn 50 cents a day, out of which
the man is fed and the horse fed and shod.

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120 TlMEHRI.

The average yield is 50 bushels to the acre, and the average weight
of lowland rice is 55i pounds to the bushel, making 2,666} pounds to
the acre. It requires 80 days' labour to each acre from the first flooding
till the rice is marketed.

The result per acre of rice-raising can be stated as follows : — Labour;
$18 ; manure, $8 ; interest on $100 @ 10 per cent., $20 ; total cost, $36;
2,666| pounds of rice at 2\ cents, $66 661 ; total profit, $30'66f.

If the above was a real profit, the farmer could make a favourable
showing ; but the Government tax is claimed by the farmers to be 50
per cent, of this profit, leaving only $17 to $18 per acre.

As I remarked before, 10 acres is a large amount for one proprietor,
and many have one acre or less. The upland rice is sown at the same
time, and flooded and manured in the same manner ; but the yield is
far less and the profits proportionately small. The lowlands rest during
the winter, but the uplands are immediately dug up and fertilized with
rice, bran, or hulls, or horse-manure, rice-straw, or liquid manure from
water closets, at a cost of about $4. to the acre and sown in wheat or

I trust that in this paper I have brought together
trustworthy information to guide those who may throw
their energies into rice. All the work required is of so
light a nature that women and children may find
employment at it ; and I see no reason why bullocks
may not be pressed into the service in the rougher
manipulation of the land. In all my remarks; I allude to
small cultivators, there being no restriftion to the size
of the plots ; it may be a square rood, or an acre, or a
company with a thousand acres.

I take this opportunity of thanking all the gentlemen
who have assisted me with reliable information con-
netted with the subjeft under consideration, especially
Mr. Imlach of La Bonne Intention and Mr. McPhail
of Anna Regina.

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Occasional Notes.

Sir R. Schomburgk on theMta Palm. — The following
is an extraft from a report of a meeting of the British
Association held at Cambridge, commencing on the
1 8th of June, 1845, which appeared in the " Gardener's
Chronicle" for the 5th of July 1845, P- 45*$.

" Sir Robert Schomburgk then read a Description
of the Murichi or Ita Palm of Guiana, of which the
following is an abstraft : —

" The author referred to the early accounts which naturalists in Europe
received of this beautiful Palm, of which Sir Walter Raleigh appears to
have brought the first fruits to Europe. Clusius, in his " Exotic Flora"
describes it as fructus elegant issimus squamosus similis pal ma -pin i ;
and Father Gumilla, Gili, and the elder authors on Guiana, extol it in
consequence of the various uses the aborigines of Guiana make of it.
It serves at different stages of its growth as a vegetable, and furnishes
a cabbage equal to the Palmetto ; at the maturity of its fruits, they
are eaten, as well in their natural state as prepared into a drink, which,
when drunk copiously proves inebriating. It is remarkable that when
much use is made of the fruit it communicates to the linen a yellow
colour after perspiration. The trunk is tapped and a fluid flows from it
which possesses much saccharine matter. Of the greatest delicacy is
however the saccharine liquor extracted from the unexpancjed flower,
which affords a liquor resembling champagne in its briskness. The
Indians prepare from the pith of its trunk a flour resembling
that of Sagus farinifera, which the Warrow Indians call Aru* ;
mixed as a pap it is considered to be an excellent remedy for dysen-
tery. The fan -shaped leaves are used as a thatch for covering their
houses* and the stump of one of these leaves serves as a broom to
sweep it with. The Indians of the savannahs and mountainous tra&s
use the base of the half-sheathing leaves for making sandals. The

* The flour which they procure from the arrowroot is called Aru-Arii
and our denomination, arrowroot, is most likely derived from the Indian


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122 TlMEHRl.

mid-ribs of the young branches are cut in thin slices, and after having
been dried they are connected together with withes and bast, and serve
as a sail for the Indian's canoe, or as a mat to sleep upon. They are
used by the travelling entomologist as a substitute for cork to fix in-
serts upon, or by those who are provided with strong beards, as razor
straps. Of the greatest use are, however, the fibres of the young leaves,
which are manufactured into thread and ropes, and they are of such a
tenacity that the greater number of Indian tribes fabricate their beds
and hammocks from it. The inhabitants of the Rio Negro make a
trade of it, and a fine hammock is sold from xo to 12 Milreis. Even in
its decay the Murichi is of use, and affords a delicacy to the Indians,
which likewise many colonists do not refuse, mamely, the larvae of a
large beetle ; the Curculio palmarum is found in large numbers in the
pith when the trunk is near its decay, and which, when boiled or
roasted, resemble in taste beef-marrow. This useful tree, which
extends from the Llanos of Cumana to the western tributaries of the
Rio Negro, and the mouth of the Amazon, or over an area of 550,000
square miles, was appropriately called by father Gamilla, arbol de la
vida, the tree of life ; and it is related at the Orinoco, that one of the
kings of Spain, hearing of this wondrous tree, which at once furnished
bed, bread, and wine, attempted its introduction into the mother country.
The author wished to correct finally those who have written on this tree,
in two points. It is firstly described as a tree scarcely 30 feet high,
while it reaches sometimes a height of 120 feet, and its average size in
Guiana is not less than, 50 feet; and next it is asserted that they
are not to be found at a greater height than 800 feet, while the author
has met them in numerous groups, and of a luxuriant growth, at a
height of from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the sea ; but stridtly to its
nature it grows likewise here in groups and in swampy soil."

Guiana Orchids. — During the past year the " Gar-
dener's Chronicle " has contained various notes on orchids
from our colony. One of the most important additions
made for some years to the orchid-houses of Europe is
the magnificent Cattleya Lawrenceana, Rchb.f., procured
by M. SEIDEL from the base of Roraima, contempora-
neously with my visit to, and ascent of, that mountain. .

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Occasional Notes. 123

Various notes on this plant have already been published
in Timehru To these may now be added the following.
In its first number for the year 1886 the "Gardener's
Chronicle/' reviewing the new introdu&ions of the past
year, declares that— »

Cattleya Lawrenceana is quite a phenomenal introduction, on which
all eyes are turned to see how it will answer those descriptions given
frpm the living plants and dried flowers, good illustrations of both of
which will be found in the Gardener's Chronicle, pp. 374, 375, vol. xxiii,
and of its interesting home in the Roraima district at p. 160, vol. xziv.
There is no fear of disappointment in the matter, for the plant is one of
the most distin&, and the freest grower we have, and the old flower,
spikes exhibit six to twelve flowers on each of many of them. The
flowers, which will, no doubt, exhibit endless variety, are generally of
a clear purplish-lilac, lip dark purple, yellow in the upper part. Soon
the mystery will be solved, for it is in sheath and bud everywhere. It is
one of Messrs. F. Sander & Co.'s most promising introductions.

Soon after this was written, the plants at home began
to flower for the first time.

What a pleasure, writes Professor Reicbenbach, the great orchid
specialist, of our Cattleya, to see Sir Trevor Lawrence's blooming
beauty fresh at hand. It was kindly sent me on March 10 by Messrs.
John Laing & Co., Forest Hill, S.E., London— two magnificent flowers*
The general tint is that of Cattleya superba, and thus the flowers are
what I had expecled them to be, promising, no doubt, some improve,
raent in longer established plants. I have, however, to add two odd
peculiarities, unnoticed in the fine dried flowers. The tube of the lip is
incurved. The small column is not straight, but also incurved, with
abrupt broad wings on each side. No doubt a great display of such fine
flowers may be expected.

A little later in the year a beautiful exampfe of this
same Cattleya was shown at a meeting of the Horticul-
tural Society by Mr. Ballantine, gardener to Baron
Schroder, of The Dell, Egham. It was, perhaps, the
finest plant of the species seen at any exhibition, and was

Q 2

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124 TlMEHRI.

in perfea health! The plant bore fifteen of its bright
reddish-purple blooms.

Then, as had been expefted, among the many plants
imported of this orchid, some fine individual varieties
began to appear. Of one of these, Reichenbach
writes : —

Cattleva Lawrenceana (Rchb. f.) concolor, n. var.

Once more a most agreeable surprise from Mr. F. A. Philbrick, of
Oldfield, Bickley Park. It is an exceedingly fine thing, a Sanderian
importation, having the flower of one whole shade of fine light purple.
The anterior part of the lip is not dark purple, it has the same colour as
all the other parts. Thus Mr. Philbrick states rightly it makes one
think of a Cattleya Skinneri with no dark colour at the end of the lip.

Online LibraryRoyal agricultural and commercial society of BritiTimehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana → online text (page 9 of 25)