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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73


I May say it is scarcely possible to name any industry with so many favorable and attractive features to almost every class of the community as that of the local production and manufacture of tobacco.

It calls for the investment of a considerable amount of capital within the country by the manufacturer; it affords healthful and remunerative employment to a large number of skilled and unskilled artisans; it gives employment to many collateral industries, amongst which may be enumerated the mechanical engineer and the machinist, the box maker, printer, and all those engaged in the transport of commodities by road, rail, or water. But above all it stimulates the agriculturist to the profitable cultivation of the tobacco plant, for which I believe the climate of New Zealand eminently well adapted, and it thus creates a demand for a fresh home product of the soil, which is at present entirely imported from abroad. The latter important fact is amply borne out by the experience of the Australian Colonies, demonstrating that the establishment of local tobacco factories has led to an enormous production of home-grown tobacco, which has developed into a progressive, permanent, and profitable industry for the producers of the soil.

When the factories are fairly established, and are placed in a position to maintain themselves, the protection now required may be gradually reduced, as was, and is now being done in Australia. I will first deal with the growth and possibilities of tobacco in New Zealand, giving comparative tables of the various results obtained in the other colonies.

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These figures are taken from T. A. Coglan's statistics. As an expert, I am thoroughly convinced that Wellington, Wanganui, New Plymouth, Poverty Bay, and Hawkes Bay, and possibly the Otago central districts, can produce an excellent quality of tobacco, which, under skilled hands, would soon not only supply local demands, but be a very large source of export, and at the same time a profitable crop to the farmer.

One of the first considerations is, Is this product profitable to the farmer? To prove this, I quote from a treatise called "English Tobacco Culture," edited by E. J. Beale, F.L.S., dedicated by royal command to H.M. the Queen.

The following shows balance-sheet of the growth of Virginia seed for one acre:—
Rent of land £3 0 0
Three ploughings at 10s per acre 1 10 0
Two harrowings at 1s per acre 0 2 0
Nine loads of farmyard manure 2 8 0
Spreading farm manure 0 1 3
3cwt Peruvian guano at £12 per ton 1 16 0
5000 plants at 15s per thousand 3 15 0
Planting same 0 4 5
Two horse hoeings at 3s per hoeing each time 0 6 0
Labour drilling and side hoeing twice over at 7s per acre each time 0 14 0
Pruning, topping, and securing at 8s per acre 0 8 0
Cutting at 5s per acre, carting to barn, and hanging, 12s 0 17 0
Firing two loads waste hard wood 0 16 0
Men's time curing and attending 1 10 0
Stripping, sorting, bulking, and packing, say 2900lbs at 5s per lOOlbs 7 5 0
£24 12 8
Produce of tobacco cured ready for sale to manufacturer, Say 2,900lbs at 4d per lb 48 6 8
Total cost of production 24 12 8
£23 14 0
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In this Colony there would be no occasion on the rich lands in the Wellington districts, which have been fertilised for years by the decomposition of vegetable matter, to go to the expense of manure or guano, thus effecting a saving on this table of £4 5s 3d per acre, which would give ample margin for any difference in the expense of labour, and also augment the handsome profit of £23 14s to the acre. The book that I extract these figures from I shall be pleased to lend you for your perusal if desired. There can be no doubt of tobacco growing in this Colony. I am informed from a reliable source that tobacco has been produced as far South as Queenstown and Mataura Mouth; but the growers, owing doubtless to their limited experience, do not yet understand the drying and curing of the leaf. This is a process that must be effected in properly constructed and warmed drying sheds, and to accomplish this I shall be pleased to furnish all requisite information and assistance for the economical construction of such sheds, which could easily be erected by local labour. To show the value of the growth of tobacco, a fair example would be Queensland (which protected this industry in 1888), given in Government statistics published up to 1893. In 1889 the crop of tobacco amounted to 283,472lbs., the price paid being about 9d per lb, its value being the first year £10,580; the crop of 1893 being 512,674lbs at 9d per lb, the money paid amounted to £19,223. In the five years 2,353,344lbs of tobacco has been grown to the value of £88,250, which has been a source of great profit to the farmer, as each year has brought increased crops, which are only sufficient as yet to supply the local requirements of the fourteen factories that the protection of this industry has built in the Colony. In the table of cost of production of leaf, the value is put down at 4d per lb. In every instance in the history of the Australian Colonies the selling value of the crop for the first ten years has never been less than 6d per lb, and has gone as high as 1s 3d. Taking the product of one acre, viz.: 2900lbs at a cost to the farmer of £24 12s 8d, the value of this crop at 6d per lb. would be £72 10s, leaving a profit of £47 17s 4d per acre for the cultivation of local leaf.

New Zealand being situated about the same parallel as Virginia and North Carolina, and about the same climate, will produce, under skilled cultivation and curing, tobacco that would compete with America in the European markets, and the producing of this tobacco should be done at a much less page 6 cost here, in consequence of the richness of the soil not requiring expensive fertilisers or manures as in the case of America. My firm would, in all probability, import from America a man well skilled in the growth of leaf of all grades, and construct buildings for the curing and manipulation of the leaf for manufacture, providing the Government would give us facilities for so doing.

This experimental farm would be used to test the various seeds, such as Havanna, Sumatra, the Virginia bark, and the North Carolina tobacco plants (aromatic), the results of which to be inspected by the Government officials, and pamphlets issued giving instructions to the farmers as to the most favorable results obtained, and under what conditions. In suggesting this, my object is to put the growth and curing of tobacco on the right basis to start with, and avoid the mis takes made in the Australian Colonies, as it is manifestly to the advantage of the farmer, as well as the manufacturer, to have the best qualities of leaf tobacco, because, first of all, the grower commands a bigger price, and secondly, the manufacturer can produce a better smoke.

There is a fallacious idea that the cultivation of tobacco can only be carried on by Chinese, or black labour, as in Virginia, North Carolina, and Australia. In these places small farmers, who are only able to start with five or six acres of good ground, cultivate and cure the tobacco themselves. After the extension of their farms from profit derived from this source, when the farm requires more than the farmer or owners to cultivate it, they employ the only available labour, which is the American negro. The reason of this is the white men are more ambitious, and become proprietors instead of employees.

In Australia Chinese do the growing of the leaf, as well as of all the vegetables, not because the white men are unable to work in this form of agriculture, but it is generally under the following conditions:—

The squatter allows them, say, for example, five acres, which he ploughs, and lets the land to the Chinaman for one-third or one-half of the value of the crop. In hundreds of instances that have come under my personal observation land that is worth from £20 to £25 per acre has yielded an annual page 7 profit of from £12 to £18. The Australian white agriculturist only cultivates wheat and oats, and in consequence of this state of affairs the Chinese have the monopoly, which does not exist in New Zealand, and should not exist in Australia. I would also emphasise the fact that this crop is especially adapted to small holdings, even as low as ten acres, on which it would be unnecessary to employ any labour outside the settler's own family. No other crop will yield the same results.

In conclusion, there is no difficulty in the cultivation of tobacco for any one used to outdoor life (and the climate of New Zealand does not in any way make such employment unhealthy or objectionable).

The following figures are extracted from Mr Coglan's statistics on the seven colonies of Australasia:—
Year. N.S. Wales. Victoria. Queensland. Australasia.
Acres. Cwt. of Leaf. Acres. Cwt. of Leaf. Acres. Cwt. of Leaf. Acres. Cwt. of Leaf.
1861 224 2,647 220 2,552 .. .. 444 5,199
1871 567 4,475 299 2,307 44 .. 910 6,782
1881 1625 18,311 1461 12,876 68 521 3154 31,708
1888 4833 55,478 1685 13,355 123 1418 6641 70,251
1891 886 9,314 545 2,579 790 7704 2221 19,597
1892 848 8,344 477 658 318 3808 1643 12,810
1893 854 10,858 1057 8,952 475 4577 2386 24,387

New South Wales yielded 5-8ths of a ton per acre in 1893 (1400lbs.), at the average value of 6d per lb., equal to £35, against a cost much less than table of £20 7s 5d, this leaving a profit of £14 12s 7d; some lands give from 12cwt. to 30cwt., caused mainly by droughty districts and various soils, some being more suitable than others. Victoria yields 4-10ths of a ton per acre (896lbs.), which is being bought at 7d, giving £26 2s 8d, being a profit of £5 15s 3d per acre. Queensland yields half a ton per acre (1120lbs.), at the present market value of 9d. per lb., equalling £42, or a nett profit of £22 12s. 7d. per acre. The small average yield of Australia is caused by drought, which you are comparatively free from in New Zealand. I have known a crop that has had good rain- page 8 falls in Australia yield 30cwt. of tobacco per acre. This Colony will produce a much higher average than the other colonies on account of the rainfall. The estimate of cost by Mr Beal is taken from a district that has ample rain, similar to the districts that I have named in New Zealand, and I have not added the cost of fertilisers and manures, which would not be necessary here, and are not used in Australia.

The following extract from the New Zealand Times Wellington, dated February 18th, 1895:—

Colonial Tobacco in England.

"Mr Valentine states that the trade considers the samples of tobacco sent by the New South Wales Government are the best colonial specimens yet submitted, and that the flavour resembles dark Virginian."

The following extracts are taken from the Tobacco Leaf, organ of the trade of the United States, New York, December 12th, 1894:—

History of Sumatra Tobacco Growing.

The table received from our Amsterdam correspondent, showing the rise and progress of Sumatra Tobacco Growing, is an interesting piece of history written in figures, reminding one of the statistics exhibiting the growth of the cotton-raising interest in this country. Looking down the columns, we see how, from a little crop of fifty bales in 1864, bringing 48 Dutch cents, per lb. and a total of 4000 florins (1600 dollars), the yield mounted up to 236,323 bales in 1890, which, at an exceptionally low average price, sold for 26,000,000 florins (10,400,000 dollars).

The crop of 1890, in number of bales, made the present high-water mark; but the largest total sum, 40,600,000 florins (16,240,000 dollars), was realised the year before. The highest average price was reached as long ago as 1873, when 182 Dutch cents, per lb. was paid. The figures giving the number of bales produced immediately after this date show how much the tobacco growing was stimulated by the prices then realised.

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Those who think that the prices paid for this year's crops are exceptionally high, will see from the table that they fall considerably below those of former years:
Year. Bales. Average Price. Cents. Total Florins
1864 50 48 4,000
1874 12,895 150 2,850,000
1884 125,496 144¼ 27,550,000
1890 236,323 72½ 26,000,000
1891 225,629 91½ 21,400,000
1892 144,689 126 26,700,000
1893 169,521 144 37,600,000