OUR ISLANDS AND THEIR PEOPLE.
ONE OF THE CITY GATES AT MANILA.
In clearing the land a few trees are left to shade the plants, which are usually obtained from other plantations in the vicinity. They grow rapidly, but are not ready to use until the third year after transplanting. Then the crop is perpetual. The plants bloom the year round and the farmer never ceases cutting his crop. The only cultivation required is to keep down the weeds, and now and then set out fresh suckers to take the place of those that occasionally perish.
Coffee has not been highly successful in the Philippine Islands, for lack of proper attention.
The climate and soil, especially in the elevated mountainous regions, are both well adapted to the production of the berry, and with a stable government to protect investors, this will in a few years become one of the great industries of the archipelago. It is said that the coffee trees of Java, which have heretofore produced the best product known, have been seriously affected by the blight during the past few years, and the same is true of the coffee-producing regions of the Northern Philippines. Fifteen years ago nearly 20,000,000 pounds of coffee were exported from Manila annually, while during the past two or three years the amount has dwindled to a mere nothinga less than a quarter of a million pounds. Of course some part of this tremendous loss is chargeable to the disturbed conditions of war, but it is due mainly to the blight; and the blight came largely from carelessness and lack of cultivation. When the coffee plantations were neglected, they grew up in thick underbrush and cogon grass, and these united in producing disease among the trees. Before the blight came most of the Philippine coffee was grown in the immediate vicinity of Manila and to the south, in the region most seriously affected by the war; so that the reasons for
the falling off in the production, as set out above, seem perfectly clear. There were many large plantations in Cavite Province and around Laguna de Bay, but now these regions are almost barren of coffee trees. The trees were planted at the rate of about 1,728 per acre, which crowded them so that they were neither fruitful nor healthy; and the conditions were not improved when the underbrush and grass were permitted to spring up and choke the growth of the plants. The amount produced, even in the best years, did not average over one thousand pounds per acre, but even this paid very well, at the rate of twelve cents per pound
usually received by the planters. With proper cultivation, three times this amount could be realized, and at that rate no other industry would surpass that of coffee-raising. Foreman says that some ten or twelve years ago, with very inferior cultivation, the planters received usually about $180 per acre for their crops, but he was unable to ascertain, even approximately, the cost of production. The owners of the plantations at that time usually let them out for one-half the crop, and of course, at that rate, without any expense except their investment and taxes, they had a remarkably good thing. Luzon coffee once ranked very high in the worlda s markets, being graded among the finest varieties produced; and there is no reason why its ancient fame should not return again.
Recently a species knowrn as Liberian coffee has been introduced, which it is claimed is not subject to blight. So far the experiments have been very satisfactory; but enough has already been learned to show that the best of trees will not remain healthy and productive without proper cultivation. They must have room to grow, and the health-giving properties of the soil should not be absorbed by weeds and grass.
WATER CARRIERS AND FRUIT VENDERS, MANILA.