United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 69 of 82)
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The markets for quebracho so far are Montevideo, Buenos Ay res, and
Rosario, and prices range from |io to I15 per ton, according to demand
and time of year, corresponding to the high or low waters of the Plate and
other rivers by which these timbers are brought down.

In all these trading centers are men who either own such timber lands
themselves and have their own steam tugs and flatboats to freight timbers
to their places of business, or they make contracts with such landowners
and send their own crews of men to cut it and fetch it down with their own

In many cases, the timbers are even cut on lands seemingly having no
owners at all, and no one takes the trouble of making inquiries as to the
ownership of such lands or timber cut thereon.

There is no doubt that with the increased demand for quebracho, these
lands will become very valuable, and, taking the present low prices of them
into consideration, a lucrative investment might suggest itself, especially
where investors would be in a position to utilize the product.


(*) Consul.


During a stay of three days in this port while en route to Port-au-Prince
I visited the various sugar plantations in this district owned entirely or in
part by Americans and as a rule conducted by Americans with American
capital. The product is shipped exclusively to the United States and almost
entirely in American bottoms. To make this report as concise as possible, I
will here give in their order the names of the plantations, their owners, the
quantity of the last year's crop in sacks of 300 pounds each, and amount
invested :



I Amount in-

Consuelo t W. L. Bass..

Sante F6 | Ross

Porvenir... Miller..

Puerto Rico Armstrong.,

C. Colon



Sacks. 1
48,000 I
42,000 I



While the aggregate product seems large, yet none of these plantations
made money last year, possibly due, however, to the fact that the sugar was
held too long. The local authorities exact in duties for various purposes a
sum equal to 33 cents per 100 pounds. Formerly, the export duty was about
12^ cents (gold), but the duties have been increased just in proportion, it

» Undated— Montevideo. Received by Department of State, September i6, 1896.

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would seem, to the wants of the Government. The i)lanters complain also,
and justly I think, that they are compelled to fix a value on their product as
of the time of shipment, usually based on last cable quotations, sometimes a
month old, and last year the valuation was very largely in excess of the price
realized. If the price could be left blank in the invoices and established on
the basis of the market value on the entry of the cargo at New York it would
relieve them of the penalties for undervaluation, which may easily occur,
and relieve them also of the payment of a duty on sugar valued as the last
crop at 4, 4^^^^, and 4J and really sold at 3 cents.

It would seem that notwithstanding the large investments made by these
people, notwithstanding the acknowledged cheapness of land and labor,
they will be eventually driven to abandon their plantations. One small
measure of relief, besides that indicated above, might be found if the Treas-
ury Department were induced to allow a rebate of 60 cents per 100 pounds,
instead of 50 cents as heretofore, to cover additional shipping expenses added
during the last year.


Macoris, January g, i8gj. Minister.


The Bay Islands can justly be called the cradle of the banana industry
in Honduras — the greatest of all her industries. The exports to the United
States during the nine months ended June 30, 1896, of this fruit alone
amounted to ^429,01 7. 31 (United States gold). The average price paid to
the producer was about 2254 cents (United States gold) per bunch.

About the close of the civil war, the records show that trading and fishing
vessels began carrying bananas to the United States from the Bay Islands of
Honduras, and the handsome profits realized thereon induced persons living
in the United States to take steps to foster and encourage the infant industry,
if, indeed, the growing of a few plants by each family as an article of food
can be called an industry. I am told by men who are yet engaged in the
fruit trade that, at the date referred to, bunches of fruit for which they paid
50 cents sold readily in the United States for $7, and even more in many

The few American citizens and English subjects resident in the Bay
Islands, seeing an opportunity to dispose of their bananas, at once turned
their attention to the production of the fruit, and in this way began what
has become the greatest industry in all Honduras.

The islands of Ruatan and Utilla, the largest of the chain of islands in the
Bay of Honduras called the Bay Islands, were the first to engage in banana
culture for export. The profile of these islands — very broken and hilly, with
deep, narrow valleys, their clay soil, with its abundance of black volcanic
rocks — will show that a great part of these lands are unfit for cultivation.
It is easily understood by those knowing aught of the effect of cultivation

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on such lands, where, for months in each year, the rainfall is enormous, why
they soon fail and become worthless, producing only second and third class
fruit in the size of bunch. The lands are literally washed away. What
were once beautiful and fertile hillsides are transformed into unsightly gullies
and barren slopes, presenting an aspect as discouraging, if not as monotonous,
as "our own Sahara.*'

In the careless management of these lands, the islands have been de-
nuded, disfigured, and devastated, and have relapsed into their former posi-
tion, producing scarcely more than the home market demands. The industry
has been transferred to the coast, some 15 or 20 miles away, where the same
conditions and ill management of land prevail.

*' Plantations," as they are called, are made in the virgin forest by cutting
down the growth of trees, brush, and vines in the fall season or during the
first months of the year, and when the green leaves and branches have been
dried by the ever-present heat of a tropical sun, the torch is applied, and in
the conflagration that follows, everything is burned but the stumps and trunks
of the largest trees. Then, without further preparation, the ** suckers'* are
planted with a '* machete," by making holes, without regularity as to line or
distance, and inserting the ** sucker" to the depth of a few inches. These
"suckers" are thesprouts of the banana j)lant, starting out of the parent plant,
as do some varieties of onions, tillering like small grains, wheat, or rye.

The planting is usually done from March until June, and the plants are
expected to begin to bear in about nine months, during which time all that
is done in the way of cultivation is the cutting down of sprouts from such
stumps as survived the burning. This is called "cleaning the plantation."

The average productive life of a plantation is about five years, after
which it is usually considered worthless, and is abandoned.

I shall not attempt to give any figures as to the cost and profits of these
plantations per acre, as conditions and circumstances surrounding each indi-
vidual effort are no mean factors in determining the resultant loss or gain.
To the writer, the "royal road to fortune" through a banana plantation in
Honduras is a. myth — a legend equaled only by the fabulous tales of the
wealth of mineral ores that lie hidden everywhere among the cliffs, rocks,
and crags of this hilly and mountainous coast. It is true, that millions of
this fruit are produced here annually, but the price paid the producer in a
great majority of instances is not greater than the cost of production and
delivery alongside of ship.

There are no wharves (one excepted), no piers, or warehouses where
vessels can take fruit in the Gulf of Honduras, and in most cases, they are
obliged by the treacherous coast to anchor a thousand yards or more off
shore, and the plantation owner has to convey his fruit in small dories and
skiffs through the surf to the vessel, where it is inspected and received or

Think of these bunches of bananas, cut miles away and transported on
the back of a donkey, broncho, semiclad Carib, or mule to the little moun-

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tain streams, thence by little dugouts to the beach, where they are piled up
awaiting the aforesaid dories and skiffs that take them through the surf to
the ship; and when you learn that each bruise, each contact with the coarse,
sharp, almost burning sand on the beach is ruinous, to say nothing of the
blackening effects of salt water, you at once see plainly how it is that thou-
sands of bunches are rejected at the ship's rail and thrown into the sea, carry-
ing with them the profits made on those received by the inspector. With
no better means of transportation to the ship, no protected harbors to break
the force of the waves of the sea and where vessels can ride at anchor in
safety, and, last, but far from least, no competing lines, no other means of
transportation to market than by dories and skiffs, and these belonging to a
monopoly, it is obviously not a profitable venture.

If the above can in any way serve as an answer to the many letters I have
received from the United States, inquiring about banana culture, all of which
I would have gladly, and more directly, answered had not the expense reached
a point beyond which I could not go (as there is no allowance available at
this consulate for postage on private correspondence), I shall be gratified.


Utilla, December 20, i8g6, ConsuL


At the request of Mr. Albert Herbert, of Boston, Mass., for information
regarding the imi)ortation of elastic fabrics into Japan, Mr. Connelly, con-
sul at Osaka and Hiogo, writes under date of December 14, 1896:

In reply to your request for information as to the quantity and value of
elastic webbing imported into the Empire of Japan for use in the manufac-
ture of what is known as congress gaiters, I respectfully submit the follow-
ing table, taken from the records of the imperial customs for the years 1893,
1894, and 1895, respectively:

Great Britain..




Great Britain..


France ,


Great Britain..


France „


Imported from-




35,010 I
',440 I

»,75o ■



Value in

14,35a. lO
5,24fj. 6a '
846.44 ;


2,932. 70





15.409.78 '


6,358.06 1


1.217.90 1




2,725. 12
232. 43





8,013 OQ



1,666. 23

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The figures of the above table indicate that the demand for elastic web-
bing is not an increasing one, and I regret to say that the inquiries made by
me of those interested in that peculiar trade confirm such indication.

The webbings are sold to the Japanese free of all charges, including the
import duty of 5 i>er cent ad valorem charged by the imperial customs on
such articles, the purchasers simply taking delivery at the customs depart-
ment. Foreign merchants trading here, who in the past have handled elastic
webbing, tell me that the very best quotations they have received from Ger-
man manufacturers are 31 cents per yard for an article 6 inches in width, 29
cents for 5 inches, and 223^ cents for 5 inches of an inferior quality. These
quotations are given free on board at port where shipped. The same web-
bings cost in Japan 35, 33^, and 26 cents, respectively, in United States


At the request of Mr. Luther Michael, of Shawnee, Pa., for information
in regard to the importation of Japanese buckwheat into the United States,
Consul-General Mclvor was asked for a report on the subject. He writes as
follows, under date of December 30, 1896:

The following information as to the cultivation, yield, and cost of Jap-
anese buckwheat was furnished by one of the native commission export
houses here:

The total production of this grain in the year 1895 was 1,151,261 koku
(5,713,693.2169 bushels), I koku being equivalent to 4.9629 bushels.
Ebaraki Ken (province) stands first in the Empire for the production of this
cereal, having produced, in the year named, 12,000 koku (59,554.8 bushels),
this being at the rate of 1.19 koku to the tan (5.905851 bushels to 0.2451
acre). The next in order of production is Nagano Ken, which produced
78,616 koku (390,163.3464 bushels), this being at the rate of 0.8 koku to
the tan (3.97032 bushels to 0.2451 acre).

There are several species of buckwheat, but the product is generally clas-
sified under two heads — summer buckwheat, which is sown in May and har-
vested in August and September, and autumn buckwheat, which is sown in
August and harvested in December.

The principal market for the cereal is found in the town of Hachioji, in
this (Kanagawa) ken. The manure used in the cultivation of the cereal is a
light night soil.

The grain is larger than ours, but, I am informed by one well acquainted
with the i^roduct of both Japan and the United States, this variation is not
due to a difference in species, but, rather, to the more careful methods of
cultivation and selection which are practiced in Japan, my informant assur-
ing me that the Japanese seed, planted in America, will, after three or four
years, be found to correspond in size and yield with our seed, and this
""^'ild be true even if there was no crossing with our native varieties.

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The cost of buckwheat flour is about 6 yen per koku; the cost of the
best selected seed for planting is about 10 yen per koku.

The following estimate of the expense attendant upon purchasing and
shipping the seed to Washington (not including our customs charges) in lots
of 30 bushels, has been prepared, at my request, by the commission firm
above referred to:


Cost of 30 bushels SS-oo

Freight chaises to Washington on 2 tons (at ^ii gold per ton), ^22, which at 52 42.30

Cost of cases 12.00

Incidental shipping charges (clearance, etc.) 3.25

Total 112.55

This is equal, at the present Government rate, to I59.43 (gold).
Mr. Michael, after receiving samples of the buckwheat, writes as follows:
I am pleased with the appearance of the '* autumn" buckwheat, and
since the packages contain 2 pounds each, it will be enough, I think, to allow
a practical test to determine the relative merits of the two varieties. The
consul-general's report is interesting, but I think that his informant is mis-
taken as to the identification of the Japanese buckwheat with our own. The
seed received from Japan is as different from our American varieties as white
corn is from yellow, or red wheat from white. If I am not mistaken, the
first Japanese buckwheat introduced into the United States was in 1884 or
1885. ^ farmed it successfully for the whole of the intervening period, and
there has been a decline of the original Japanese buckwheat; but this has
not been due, as the consul-general's report says, to our careless selection of
seed or careless farming, but to the deteriorating effects of the action of honey
and other bees, who carry the pollen from the old-fashioned varieties over
into the Japanese fields, thus bringing about a condition for which the foreign
buckwheat is not responsible. In some portions of the country, I have
found large areas where bees were rare (owing to the absence of clover), and
in those sections the Japanese buckwheat had deteriorated to a hardly per-
ceptible degree. Honeybees will travel over a radius of country 7 miles in
width and ascend an elevation of 1,600 feet for honey. It can readily be
seen that upon the introduction of any new buckwheat it is used by only a
few farmers at first ; the neighboring farmers continue to plant the old
varieties, the honeybees multiply, and the degeneration of the buckwheat
is brought about.


The inclosed contributed article from the London Times of this morn-
ing is the most complete statement I have thus far seen of the care taken in
several of the countries of the large and growing class of j)ersons known as
tourists. The vast increase of travel for pleasure has been limited, in the
main, to the people of the United States, England, and the British colonies,
whose restlessness has thus found an outlet. They have gone everywhere,

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no region being so remote that they have not invaded it together, although
of late years, the contingent from the United States has gained preponder-
ance in numbers and distribution.

As this process has gone on, each of the countries invaded has, in its
own way, devised methods to encourage this annual visitation. France has
gone to a considerable length in marking outlying or remote roads and paths,
so that travelers may make their way through them withoutdanger or incon-
venience and at a reasonable outlay. The article herewith sent shows how
thoroughly the idea has been taken up and worked out by voluntary associa-
tions in certain parts of Germany. That many of the thousands of visitors
who annually come from the United Slates to the Old World may be glad
to know of the facilities furnished by such methods for seeing people with
unfamiliar customs and habits can not be doubted.

The reproduction of a carefully prepared article of this kind in the
Consular Reports will no doubt commend it to many editors of newspapers
in different parts of the United States, thereby introducing the subject to
many traveling readers. While it may not have a direct relation to the
commercial interests which consuls are supposed to represent, it is, it seems
to me, an added duty to furnish information which may be of interest to a
fair proportion of the 100,000 travelers who go abroad each year, mainly to
European countries, for pleasure and knowledge. It would be impossible
to exaggerate the influence of this travel, not only upon those persons whose
inclination and means enable them to indulge in it, but upon thousands of
others in many communities of the United States who, having no such op-
portunities themselves, find their lives broadened by the knowledge thus
acquired through friends or neighbors. No argument is needed, either, to
emphasize the fact that the presence of all these people in the various coun-
tries of Europe tends to make the United States better known and more
highly respected everywhere, thus conferring a pleasure and an obligation
upon a large number abroad.

That this produces inquiry and, in the end, promotes business relations,
is, it seems to me, clear. As this travel in foreign countries will no doubt
increase rather than diminish, everything that can tend to make it easier to
see the most informing places and objects or may turn curiosity into many
and varied channels will be helpful to society at large as well as to individual
travelers. The hope that articles like the one I send may promote this
is my only excuse for venturing thus far out of the usual official path.


Birmingham, August j?/, i8g6. Consul,

[From the Lonclon Times, August 27, 1896.]

When the average British tourist is arranging bis plans for a continental holiday, he is apt
to leave out of the reckoning most of those centers in Germany which lie off the beaten
track of English travel, his impression being that, however great their charm, it would be

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difficult for him, with his more or less inadequate command of the language, to find his way
about in them. The possibility of his getting lost in what he regards as the trackless expanse
of a German forest deters him from fresh enterprises, and he invariably keeps to the recog-
nized routes, in which alone he thinks there is safety for him. But, however reasonable his
fears may have been years ago, the fact should be recognized that there now exists throughout
practically the whole of the innumerable forest districts and " playgrounds " of Germany an
almost perfect network of organizations employed in facilitating the inovements and increas-
ing the comforts of tourists in every possible way, carrying on, in fact, a work the like of
which is unknown among ourselves, but one that, for its ceaseless activity, its thoroughgoing
and most practical plan of operations, and its extremely beneficial results, deserves the most
cordial recognition. It is found to be of no use to rely on local or other authorities for the
real opening up of a district. The authorities will keep main roads in repair and put up
signposts thereon; but the route of the tourist in search of the picturesque lies as often as
not, in Germany, away from the main roads, through more or less dense forests, along unfre-
quented valleys or over mountain tops; and if these bypaths are to be indicated and kept in
order it must be done by private agency. This is where the work of the Tourist Verein
mainly comes in, and so well, indeed, is the work done, that there is to- day hardly a forest
or mountain region in Germany where a tourist can not find his way about or reach a given
point with an ease entirely lacking in the case of a stranger who gets into the inner recesses
of Epping Forest, of Wales, of the New Forest, or of almost any other of our own holiday

Each verein, or club, is formed by some hundreds, or, it may be, some thousands, of resi-
dents in a particular district, the funds l^eing provided by means of small subscriptions, rang-
ing from 2s. to 5s. a year. The organization consists, as a rule, of a central body and a
sufficient number of sections to cover the whole of the district, each section taking charge of
its own locality. The practice varies somewhat, but a favorite method is for the members to
join a section and pay their subscripiion to that section, part of the money being retained for
local purposes, while the remainder goes to the centra) body to form a fund for the payment
of general expenses or for the making of special grants. Each section has its independent
oi^anization for local purposes, but sends representatives to the general assembly of the club.
A large number of the clubs have also joined themselves into a federation, which meets year
by year in different parts of Germany.

The objects aimed at are, generally sp>eaking, the indication of routes according to a uni-
form system; the construction of footpaths and the keeping in order of paths already made ;

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 69 of 82)