Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sugar

Sugar is grown very extensively. The cane, Saccharum violace? on, is not of the same species as that cultivated in the Western hemisphere, but it is of the kind common throughout Malaysia and Polynesia. It is either a native of the archipelago or was introduced in prehistoric times. Several varieties are raised on the islands. some of which are used as food for man and animals and others for sugar-making. They are all rich in saccharine qualities, but the greater part of the sugar produced is coarse and of poor quality, and brings a low price in consequence of slovenly methods of cultivation and manufacture and the lack of high-grade machinery, such as is used in Cuba and the United States. The quantity produced, however, is very large, supplying all that is used for home consumption and furnishing for export annually an average of 250,000 tons, which could be indefinitely increased by the introduction of improved machinery, skill, and capital. Tobacco is an important crop, and Manila cheroots and cigars are as famous and highly appreciated east of the Cape of Good Hope as the Havana product is among western nations. The quantity of the leaf raised is very great, but its cultivation is capable of much further development. It has been estimated that 20,000 or more persons find employment in its preparation and the manufacture of cigars, exclusive of those who raise the leaf. In one factory alone in the Binondo suburb of Manila about 9,000 young women and girls are employed. Tobacco was made a government monopoly by Captain-General Jose Basco y Vargas in 1781, and remained so until July 1, 1882, when the trade was thrown open. Rice is largely grown, but its use is so general and the demand for home consumption so great that little is left for exportation, although a market could always be found in China for any amount that might be sent there. There are several varieties grown in the islands, but they may be classified under two heads : the upland or mountain rice and the water rice. The upland rice is sown broadcast on the hill lands after plowing and harrowing the soil. It matures in about three to four months and is harvested ear by ear. The water rice is sown later in the year, after the rains have commenced and the low land has become thoroughly water-soaked. The seed is sown in the mud and water, and in about six weeks the young plants are transplanted to the rice fields, which are kept thoroughly irrigated.