T. J O'Shea.

Farming & planting in British East Africa. A description of the leading agricultural centres and an account of agricultural conditions and prospects online

. (page 7 of 16)
Online LibraryT. J O'SheaFarming & planting in British East Africa. A description of the leading agricultural centres and an account of agricultural conditions and prospects → online text (page 7 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Institute were reported on by Professor Wyndham R.
Dunstan, M.A., F.R.S. The results of an analysis
shewed that it resembled Indian tea in the amount of
extractive matter and tannin present. The liquor
obtained on infusion was found to be of very fair
quality, and the tea was valued by a firm of brokers
at from G^/d. to yd. per lb. "The investigation
shews," concluded Professor Dunstan in his report,
"that tea of good saleable character can be grown in
the Limuru district of the East Africa Protectorate
with prospects of success." Again, in 191 1, two sam-
ples were sent home, and were favourably reported
on by a firm of tea experts, the teas being valued
at Sd. and 8Hd. per lb.

From this it is evident that only further experi-
ment is necessary to establish tea as a paying invest-
ment in British East Africa. But the process may be
slow, as it is not an undertaking that can be embarked
on by the inexperienced, and the dij0&culties of
obtaining seed are a hindrance.

Tea seed rapidly loses its vitality, so that rapid
transit is essential, and it must be planted immediate-
ly on arrival at its destination. The nurseries should



be well prepared, with facilities for irrigation or hand planting
watering. The seed should be planted two inches methods.
deep : otherwise the preparation and so\\ang are as
with coffee. The young bushes should be ready k)
transplant in from lo to i8 months, the best distance
for planting in the Limuru district (owing to the
luxuriance of growth) being eight feet by eight, or
even nine by nine. Planting should be done only
in cloudy weather when the ground is moist and rain
is imminent. Virgin forest land is the most suitable.

The tea bush differs from other evergreens in pruning.
this important respect — that whereas with coffee and
citrus trees there are distinct harvesting seasons, it
is not so with the tea bush. It bears leaf and requires
plucking all the year round. The pruning of the
tea bush is naturally quite different from that of
coffee — in the former one prunes to get a larger sur-
face and to encourage the growth of leaf, while in
the latter one's aim is to promote the growth of seed.

The writer has had little experience of tea, but skeds
is satisfied that the soil and climate of the Limuru suppues.
district are favourable to its production. Plants
raised from seed grown on the Caineville Estate are
now promising well, and it is hoped in another year
to have seed available for sale. While it is yet too
soon to say whether plants raised frcm locally grown
seed will prove superior to the original importation,
for local planting it has been well proved that such is
the case with other plants.

There are other districts than Limuru in the capital
Highlands of B.E.A. suitable for the cultivation of required.
the tea plant, so that the prospects of the industry
well deserve attention. The late Mr. G. W. L. Caine
estimated the cost of clearing and planting 300 acres
and maintaining up to the 4th year, including neces-
sary buildings and machinery, but not including the
cost of the land, at ;C7,50o, or £2$ per acre.

W. H. CAINE.



:>a



PLANTING IN UGANDA.



HISTORY
OF THE
INDUSTRY.



CAPITAL

INVESTED.



^T^HE history of the industry on a commercial scale
dates back to 1910, at which time there was only
one European estate in the country. In that year,
mainly on the results obtained on this single estate,
Europeans commenced to take up land and turn their
attention to the possibilities of planting.

Previous to this, in fact as early as 1901, experi-
mental planting of Para, Castilloa and Ceara rubbers,
cocoa and coffee were made by the Government in
the Botanic Gardens, Entebbe. Castilloa and Cerea
rubbers were soon shown to be unprofitable crops,
but the success promised by Para rubber, cocoa and
coft'ee engaged the attention of those pioneer planters,
Messrs. Hunter and Moses in 1906, and they started
the first European estate in the country which is at
the present time under the Kivuvu Rubber Co., Ltd.

From this date until the outbreak of war there
was a considerable influx of planters and capital into
the country, and it can now be safely said that there
are more Europeans engaged in planting than in any
other industry. The capital now at stake also far
exceeds that of any other industry. There are to-day
at least 150 estates owned by Europeans. These vary
from 100 to 2,000 acres of cultivation and probably
represent a capital of over half a million sterling.



EARLY
EFFORTS.



DISEASE
APPEARS.



The first plantation company was started as a
rubber growing concern, but the success it met with
in growing coffee as a catch crop between the rubber,
induced it and most planters who followed it, to make
coffee their principle crop. How unfortunate this
was will be shown later, but there is no doubt that
the very fine yields which were obtained, coupled
with the good prices realised in the market, justified
planters in doing this. After all, at that time,
rubber was not proved, moreover, it was not expected
that any return was possible from it for six years,
and here was a crop which came into bearing at two
and a half years, and from which planters were
actually making very good profits.

In 191 3 leaf disease, Hemeleia vastatrix, made
its first appearance and put at entirely different



54



complexion on coffee growing. The disease was reduced

epidemic at its first appearance and when its viru- yields.

lence had passed oflf it was followed by several other

pests in epidemic form until to-day, such is the toll

exacted by these pests, that average yields per tree

are nearer Y-z lb. than the 2^ lbs. we got previous to

1913-

Some districts in Uganda seem to have escaped
the ravages of the pests to a large extent, and prob-
ably give a higher yield, and even in the worst
aflFected districts one estate here and there will have
a good year, but on the whole I fear our yields will
never approach the pre-disease figures.

At the same time that the yields began to de-
crease prices in London began to drop, whilst the
war came as a crowning misfortune with its high
freights and uncertain markets.

Fortunately, the rubber planted before the coffee development
boom had by this time reached the tappable stage, op rubber.
and the three years' results of yields and costs which
are given later on, show that this is an even better
paying crop than coifee ever promised to be. Those
who ha\e continued to ])lant and keep up Iheir rubber
are now about to reap a rich reward for their faith.

Cocoa all this time was being steadily planted. cocX)A.
It never excited the attention that coflfee did, nor, on
the other hand, was it neglected for cofi"ee as rubber
was. All planters seemed to regard it as a good
second to coffee as an investment. Cocoa has, how-
ever, still to prove itself as a profitable crop.

In the Kingdom of Uganda practically all the t-AND.
land is m the hands of the natives. Purchase of this
land was possible by agreement with the native owner
and the Government, who took the land over from
the native, and retained possession, until the pur-
chaser had completed the development of 10% of the
acreage. A freehold title was then given by the
Crown. Government land in Bunyoro, Toro and
Busoga was obtainable similarly. Prices in the case
of native land were a matter of arrangement between
the seller and the buyer. In 1910 the average price
was Rs. 2/- per acre, which rose rapidly to Rs. 30/-



and over during the coffee boom. After 1913, how-
ever, the demand for land dropped and prices fell
considerably.

NEW TITLES. Recently information has been received that the

Secretary of State has ruled that no more freehold
grants of land are to be made and the Governor is
unable to sanction any further sales by natives to
Europeans. All that can now be got is a lease up
to 99 years with two revisions of rent during the
period.

The reason for this change is unknown, but as
there is considerable opposition to it amongst all
sections of the community, and not least amongst the
natives themselves, there is a faint hope that it may
be given up. Of its effect on the development of the
country there is no doubt.



ABUNDANCE
OF LAND.



There is abundance of land suitable for planting
in the Protectorate. Vast areas are almost un-
inhabited or occupied only by the ^owner and his
family. An infinitesimal proportion is cultivated by
the natives.

The only crops which have been successfully
grown by Europeans are rubber, coffee and cocoa.
Attempts have been made with cotton, tobacco and
other crops, but with little success. All the cotton
which is produced in Uganda is grown by natives on
the extremely wasteful plan of a cotton plot for
every person regardless of the suitability or other-
wise of the locality. The Government controls the
production of the crop and spends a good deal of
money on it. The Agricultural Department may 1)e
said to be mainly occupied by this one crop.



RUBBER Of the three crops which Europeans are grow-

DISTRICTS. ing, rubber may be said to offer the best prospects,

and it is rapidly becoming the favourite crop. The
oldest rubber is in Kyagwe, which is the district with
the heaviest rainfall. Still, rubber is doing well in
Busoga, Mityana and Masindi, and there is no reason
to fear it will not do well over most of the planting
districts.

Coffee, as I have already mentioned, is not the
safe crop it was expected to be. Despite this, a good




Q

3) or-

z




"TENTFONTEIN", NAIROBI. 1904



iito lij H, B. Yimngt



One o( Ihe earliesi parlies ol pioneers (rom South Africa. The group includes, the Ule W. Russell Bowker. Mrs. Frank Watkins, N, A. McGregor, Esq , (Manager .Naivasha Govl. Farm) and V. M. Newland, Esq., (Managing Diredor NewUnd, Tarlton & Co., Lid.)



deal of coflfee is- still being planted and fair crops are coffee
being secured in districts further from the Lake. It prospects.
is, however, extremely likely that the epidemics
which did so much damage to the crop in the Lake
area will sooner or later spread to these more remote
parts, when prospects there will be less bright.

The safest and best system of planting seems to the best
be the planting of rubber, using coffee as a catch- system of
crop. This plan was advised by the writer in his planting.
book " Planting in Uganda " some years ago, and
events have proved that had the plan been more
generally carried out, many planters would have had
reason for rejoicing now. We have found that rubber
must be planted at a mininuun distance of 20ft. by
2oft. Were no catch-crop grown the upkeep of the
areas would be very expensive, and coffee seems to
be the best crop to use for the purjwse. It must all
be removed by the sixth year, and with average luck
two or three fair crops may be secured in the mean-
time to help tide over the period of waiting for the
rubber. vShould pests be too prevalent to allow of even
fair crops, then the coffee has helped to keep the land
clean, and it is comforting to know that one's main
crop is not the one that is affected, nor is there the
slightest reason to fear that the coffee pests are
capable of attacking the rubber.

Cocoa is not yet mature in the country. Th? cocOA NOT
Government have a few old trees in Entebbe which yet proven.
are said to give very good crops, and had the yields
from these been recorded, probably we might have
been in a position to say definitely whether the
crop was going to be a success or not. Unfortunately,
no records of yields were kept, and the planters have
to wait until they have proved the point for them-
selves, as they have done in the cose of rubber.

The cost of labour is from Rs. 4-50 to Rs. 5 labour.
per month. It may be said to be fairly cheap
Most of the estates are in the Buganda Kingdom
and here the local labour is very deficient, in spite of
a big native population. Most plantations are being
run with labour recruited from the more remote parts
of the Protectorate. The Baganda are most useful
for the more skilled work of a plantation, such as
pruning, tapping, etc. Unfortunately they cannot



deal of coffee is- still being planted and fair crops are coffee
being secured in districts further from the Lake, ft prospects.
is, however, extremely likely that the epidemics
which did so much damage to the crop in the Lake
area will sooner or later spread to these more remote
parts, when prospects there will be less bright.

The safest and best system of planting seems to Thk best
be the planting of rubber, using coffee as a catch- system of
crop. This plan was advnsed by the writer in his planting.
book " Planting in Uganda " some years ago, and
events have proved that had the plan been more
generally carried out, many planters would have had
reason for rejoicing now. We have found that rubber
must be planted at a mininuun distance of 20ft. by
2oft. Were no catch-crop grown the upkeep of the
areas would be very expensive, and coffee seems to
be the best crop to use for the purpose. It nuist all
be removed by the sixth year, and with average luck
two or three fair crops may be secured in the mean-
time to help tide over the period of waiting for the
rubber. vShould pests be too prevalent to allow of even
fair crops, then the coffee has helped to keep the land
clean, and it is comforting to know that one's main
crop is not the one that is affected, nor is there the
slightest reason to fear that the coffee pests are
capable of attacking the rubber.

Cocoa is not yet mature in the country. Th? coco.\ not
Government have a few old trees in Entebbe which yet proven.
are said to give very good crops, and had the yields
from these been recorded, probably we might have
been in a position to say definitely whether the
crop was going to be a success or not. Unfortunately,
no records of yields were kept, and the planters have
to wait until they have proved the point for them-
selves, as they have done in the cose of rubber.

The cost of labour is from Rs. 4-50 to Rs. 5 labour.
per month. It may be said to be fairly cheap
Most of the estates are in the Buganda Kingdom
and here the local labour is very deficient, in spite of
a big native population. Most plantations are being
run with labour recruited from the more remote parts
of the Protectorate. The Baganda are most useful
for the more skilled work of a plantation, such as
pruning, tapping, etc. Unfortunately they cannot



be induced to work in sufl&cient numbers for even this-
work to be carried on without check.



ECONOMIC
SIZE OF
PLANTATIONS.



NECESSARY
CAPITAL.



BEARING
STAGE.



The labour problem is one not difficult of solu-
tion. The country is teeming with people, but until
the labour question engages the attention of the
Government sufficient labour will not be easy to get.

Plantations of less than 250 acres are not ad-
visable in this country. The area is about the right
size to keep one European profitably employed. The
climate is against the small proprietor who proposes
to make a home here. The above area would pay
for a manager when the owner considered it necessary
to seek a change of climate.

The capital necessary to bring the areas into full
bearing is : In the case of rubber, £20 per acre;
Cocoa, £20 per acre; coffee, £\^ per acre. With a
total acreage of 250 this would cover all necessary
buildings and machinery.

Were rubber planted with coffee as a catch-crop
(and this is the only economical way of growing
rubber), and the proceeds from the coffee used to
reduce the capital expenditure on the rubber, the
;(;20 per acre might be materially reduced. This
would, of course, depend upon the crops of coffee
secured, and also largely upon the market.

A planter experienced in the crops of this country
might reduce the above figures, but it is not safe for
others to count on doing so.

The coffee would be in full bearing at three years
from seed, Para rubber would commence to bear In
five years, but would not be giving large returns
until the eighth year. Cocoa commences to bear at
five years. We have yet to prove at what age it
becomes really remunerative.



I have already referred to the present-day un-
certainty of the coffee yields. We got 2/^K>. of
parchment coffee per tree before leaf disease came
Some estates get this amount now, but not regularly,
year after year, as we used to. Many estates rarely
get a good crop so that it is very difficult to give any

58



figure which can be said to be fair. Personally, I
would say that an average of J^ ft) per tree is as
much as can be relied upon.

Pests are becoming increasingly abundant. Our pests.
most serious pests are : Leaf-diseases, Berry-blotch
Bean-fungus, Variegated-bug, Stem-borer, Berry-
borer and a leaf-eating caterpillar. Any of these
pests may become epidemic. Spraying is in some
cases effective, but as our scientific experts tell us
spraying should be used to anticipate attacks, and
be considered as a preventive, and as we never
know which pest is coming, one can hardly provide
against all of them by spraying. Spraying measures
have not yet been proved to give any real security
nor are they likely to against so many different pests,
until the one cure for every ill is discovered.

A good deal has been said about the pruning of \alue OF
coffee out here. The subject, of course, did not arise i-runing.
unlil our crops began to decrease. Yet, in our fat
years, \vc did not get our crops by pruning. The
real truth of the matter is probably that when our
trees were giving us regular crops of coffee they did
not run to the thick growth that they do now, when
they bare sparsely. In other words, small cropping
is probably the cause and not the effect. I do not for
a moment hold that our trees could not be improved
by pruning, but if one considers that our reduced
cro])s are due to pests, which certainly will not dis-
criminate between the pruned and the unpruned, one
has to decide whether an extra crop to cover the
extra expense is reasonably probable. A great deal
of pruning has been done with such varied results
that cases can be cited for and against. The general
question is decidedly " not proven."

In " Planting in Uganda," 25/- is given as the marketed
cost of putting I cwt. of coffee on the market. This cost of
was, of course, the rate when our crops were 2^ lbs. coffee.
per tree. With a yield of only /4^ per tree the cost
will l)e about 40/- per cwt. With present high
freights it wall be probably 43/-. This figure covers
upkeep, collection, preparation, freight, etc. The
variable figures, which depend intimately upon the
crop, are upkeep, collection and preparation.

59



MARKET Market prices are at present so affected by the

VAi^UES. war that it is difficult to give present values. In

" Planting in Uganda " actual sale prices are given
in detail. Since war broke out our coffee has sold as
low as 50/- per cwt., whilst in a recent sale 90/- was
realised. To get the true market figures we must
take pre-war figures or wait till markets are again
normal.

It will have been gleaned that we are not yet in
the position to give very definite figures of yields,
costs of marketing and prices of cocoa. The areas
we have which are nearing maturity are very mixed
in the kinds of cocoa planted. In recent years we
have been able to practise very rigorous selection of
the varieties we have sown, and consequently we
look for much better results when these areas come
into bearing. With the growth of cocoa in this
country we have reason to be satisfied. It has yet
to prove its cropping capabilities.



QUALITY OF Some of our cocoa has sold in London at 80/-

COCOA. per cwt. It has been classed equal to good Ceylon.

Of the quality of the cocoa there is thus no doubt.

With rubber considerable progress has been
made in recent years. We now have accurate figiu"es
of yields and costs extending over three years and I
cannot do better than give in full a short paper
which I read before the Conference of the Uganda
Planters' Association in January, 191 7, and in which
these figures are embodied.

Kivuvu go's. "This is the third year of the Kivuvu tapping

EXPERIMENTS, experiment and the third occasion on which I have
given the results obtained. The experiment com-
menced in 1914 with 6,000 trees and was extended
yearly until in this paper I am giving the results of
tapping 12,000 trees. The first year's results were
comparatively poor as far as yields went, and,
naturally, those considering the planting of rubber
were not convinced, although it was shown that a
good profit was obtained on the rubber collected.
Last year's results were sufficiently good to induce
many planters to look upon rubber with renewed
interest, but there are still some who have their
doubts as to the future of the crop. The figures

60



which I give now should do much to settle the minds rubber
of the doubters as to which is likely to prove the yields.
most paying crop for this country. The tapping of
rubber at Kivuvu is by no means looked upon as an
experiment to-day, but forms a very important part
of our work. The results now begin to give some
idea of the ultimate profit to be obtained from the
crop.

The crops for the three years were, per tree : —



1014
8 ozs.



1915
11/^ ozs.



I9I6

22^4^ ozs.



These yields are sufficiently progressive to show
that rubber is a soimd commercial proposition in
this country. It should be remembered that they are
average yields over all trees tapped, big and small.
I have not been able to keep yields separate, but I
am certain that if I could have done so, our oldest
trees would have been shown to yield 3 lbs. per tree
for 191 6. We also read in the Report of the Botanic
Gardens, Entebbe, that close on 3 lbs. per tree was
collected last year.

The costs per lb of rubber work out as follows : rubber

. COSTS

1914. 1915. 1916.





Cents.


Cents.


Cents


Upkeep of area ...


. 25.6


II. 6


8.2


Tapping


19.0


15-2


II.


Curing and packing


. 4-6


4-3


4.4


Upkeep of tools ...


I.O


1.0


1.0


Freight Kla to London .


. 10.5


13-4


13-4


Management


. 6.0


6.0


6.0



Landed in London



66.7



51-5



44.0



Add all market
selling charges



and



9.0



9.0



9.0



Making the cost to place
in the hands of the pur-
chaser



i/o^^d. o/iod. o/gd.



Id.



This table shows the cost of collection reduced
per ft) this year and also that we place the



61



rubber in the hands of the purchaser at a cost to us
of gd. per lb. That is to say all we get over gd. per
lb is profit.

MANAGERIAL It will be noted that I have only allowed 6 cts

COSTS. per lb for management. I have done this as that

was the figure given in my first paper and I have
kept to it to make my figures comparative. Those
considering this sum too small can add to it what
they consider correct.

RUBBER At the time I read my labt paper rubber was

PRICES. fetching 2 /ad. per lb in London. Since then price-

have fluctuated, having risen to 4/- per lb. and
dropped again to a/sd. Unfortunately, owing to
delays in transit none of this year's rubber has
reached home, so I am unable to give prices obtained.
We, however, sold one consignment of 191 5 in
February last at 3/4/^d. per ft), the highest price
on that day in the market being 3/6d. This con-
signment was described by our Brokers as a very
nice sample of rubber. We may, I think, take it for
granted that the year's rubber, when sold, will realise
not far below the top of the market.

PROFITS FROM We have now reached the stage when we may

RUBBER. feel justified in working out what are the profits to

be obtained from rubber in this country. For this
purpose we may, I think, safely capitalise an acre
of rubber at ;;(i20. This area sho.uld bear 108 trees.
We have then to take an average selling price for
the product, and I propose to take a fixed price of
2/ 2d. per ft). Agreeing to these figures we then
find that the three years' Kivuvu results gave profits
as follows: In 1914 of 16%; in 1915 of 25%; in 1916
of 54%. These figures are not estimates. They are
the results actually obtained by me and I can vouch
for their accuracy. They can be readily checked from
the following : The area tapped at Kivuvu was, Jn
1916, 120 acres. The amount of rubber obtained was
16,700 lbs. On each lb. of rubber we get a profit of
i/6d.



REDUCED A glance at the table of costs will show that the

WORKING reduction each year has taken place in the first two


1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryT. J O'SheaFarming & planting in British East Africa. A description of the leading agricultural centres and an account of agricultural conditions and prospects → online text (page 7 of 16)