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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Value of Bechuanaland

Value of Bechuanaland.

The railway from the south has its present terminus at Vryburg, and is being extended to Mafeking, eventually to be carried on, doubtless, to Buluwayo by one line, and to Salisbury by another.

The revenue of the country has risen from £11,757 in 1886-87, to upwards of £52,000 in 1891-92. The expenditure is over £150,000, mainly due to the maintenance of the Bechuanaland border police, a force of close on five hundred men, costing about £100,000, for which a grant-in-aid by the British Government and a contribution from the British South Africa Company are made for the protectorate expenses.

The value of Bechuanaland has been the subject of much controversy from time to time. Its principal use and a most important one is that of affording access to the north. It is a fairly valuable cattle-raising country; sheep raising, however, has not as yet proved page 66 very successful. Various grain crops, such as maize and millet, and even wheat, have done well, considering the soil is merely scratched, never manured, and is without any irrigation. It is hoped, how ever, that the experiments in well-sinking and water-boring, under professional supervision, now being prosecuted by the Government will prove a success.

Within the last two years there has been a considerable influx of farmers from the Cape Colony, the Orange Free State, and the South African Republic.

The western portion of Bechuanaland partakes somewhat of a desert character, with a fair proportion, however, of hard ground, consisting chiefly of limestone covered with the small karoo bushed on which cattle, sheep, and goats thrive well. The difficulties of transport over the sandy wastes and stony tracts of this vested region are great; but it is believed they could be overcome by the use of camels, which have proved a success in the similar country of the adjoining German Protectorate.