EAST COAST OF SUMATRA.
Balu China.a The pepper cultivation in the interior is very extensive. The price at Soonghal is 15 dollars per behar, or 3 large piculs; duty 3 dollars, and transport down the river to Kampong Bendar, bring the price to 20 dollars per 100 gantons, or the behar. The Orang Kaya is the principal planter. He advances to each Batta cultivator, on his arrival from the mountains, 160 gantons of paddy and a sufficiency of salt for the year, and the necessary implements of husbandry, viz. a large hoe, a spade, a parang, and a basket. This continues to be repeated annually for three years, when the Orang Kaya obtains two-thirds of the pepper at the low price of 9 dollars per behar, and the other third at the selling price of the day to traders. The pangulus, or superintendents, get the profit of one-third, being the difference between 9 dollars and 15. The vines bear after three years; the average produce of each tree is reckoned at a ganton measure, or equal to 4^ catties. After sixteen years, the vines generally die. Dry poles are mostly used for their support, contrary to the custom at Pinang and the west coast, where the mangkudu tree is chiefly planted for propping the vines. The gardens are kept beautifully clean. Sometimes the natives plant paddy, tobacco, pulse, and maize amongst the vines.
The exports from Balu China consist of gambier, of a peculiarly excellent quality, which is much prized by the Malays in the adjoining countries. It usually sells for more than double the price of the Rhio gambier. The following is a price-current of the principal articles of commerce at Balu China, viz.
Gambier .. .. 30 drs. per laxsa, or ten thousand cakes.
Beesa -wax .. ..27 a picul.
Slaves......30 to 40 each.
Tobacco .. .. 15 per picul.
Salt .. .. .. 6 a 100 gantons.