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|Map of the Caribbean area|
|List of contributors|
|Table of Contents|
|Part I. Agricultural resources|
|Part II. Mineral resources|
|Part III. Water resources|
|Part IV. Human resources|
|Part V. Exploitation of resour...|
|Part VI. Some national and international...|
|Part VII. Bibliographical...|
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|Table of Contents|
Map of the Caribbean area
List of contributors
Table of Contents
Part I. Agricultural resources
Part II. Mineral resources
Part III. Water resources
Part IV. Human resources
Part V. Exploitation of resources
Part VI. Some national and international considerations
Part VII. Bibliographical sources
A publication of the
SCHOOL OF INTER-AMERICAN STUDIES
which contains the papers delivered at the ninth conference on the
Caribbean held at the University of Florida, December 4, 5, and 6, 1958.
ISSUED WITH ASSISTANCE FROM
THE WALTER B. FRASER PUBLICATION FUND
S1 11.0 0.co 9 5 91 S75 70 65 60
CA IBB A
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edited by A. Curtis Wilgus
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA PRESS
A University of Florida Press Book
L. C. Catalogue Card Number: 51-12532
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF
STATE INSTITUTIONS OF FLORIDA
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FLORIDA GROWER PRESS
RALPH H. ALLEE, Director, Instituto Interamericano de Ciencias
Agricolas, Turrialba, Costa Rica
C. C. ANDERSON, Chief Petroleum Engineer, Bureau of Mines,
United States Department of the Interior
LINDEN B. ARTHUR, Vice President, Texaco (Caribbean) Inc., New
LEE ASH, Editor, Library Journal, New York
GEORGE A. BLOWERS, Member of the Board of Directors, Export-
Import Bank of Washington
MONROE BUSH, Assistant to the President, Old Dominion Foundation,
FREDERICK HARDY, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Soil Science,
Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad
PRESTON E. JAMES, Department of Geography, Syracuse University
ERICH O. KRAEMER, Economist, Technical Cooperation Program,
Organization of American States, Havana
GORDON K. LEWIS, College of Social Sciences, University of Puerto
Rico, Rio Piedras
DONALD MAC ARTHUR, Treasurer, Sears, Roebuck and Company,
CECIL MORGAN, Executive Assistant of the Chairman of the Board,
Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), New York
RICHARD H. MOTE, Chief, Branch of Base Metals, Bureau of Mines,
United States Department of the Interior
A. J. POWERS, Chief, Caribbean Section, Bureau of Foreign Com-
merce, United States Department of Commerce
vi The Caribbean
J. WAYNE REITZ, President, University of Florida
J. FRED RIPPY, Professor of American History, University of Chicago
RoY R. RUBOTTOM, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American
Affairs, United States Department of State
WILLIAM SAENz, The Marine Laboratory, University of Miami
W. H. VOSKUIL, Chief Mineral Economist, Illinois State Geological
CHARLES WAGLEY, Department of Anthropology, Columbia Uni-
versity, New York
JOHN M. WEIR, Associate Director for Medical Education and Public
Health, The Rockefeller Foundation, New York
C. LANGDON WITE, Department of Geography, Stanford University,
A. CRnTs WILGUS, Director, School of Inter-American Studies,
University of Florida
THE MATERIAL contained in this volume makes a real contri-
bution to a better understanding of the economic, social, and
political problems of Florida's immediate neighbors. Like the eight
previous Caribbean Conferences, this one has brought together
some twenty experts collectively interested in the Caribbean, but
individually interested in a particular field of knowledge and experi-
ence. The information thus assembled is here presented by the
University of Florida Press which has for several years attracted
widespread attention as a leading publishing medium for scholarly
works on Latin America.
As in the past, we have viewed the "Caribbean area" as including
Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, the island repub-
lics, and the semisovereign areas. This geographical unit is one in
which the University of Florida is especially interested since, indeed,
our state is virtually a part of it. This is one of the reasons why the
University for more than two generations has attracted students
from these countries and why we have developed an inter-American
program of increasing significance.
In organizing this conference we enjoyed the cooperation of the
Texas Company through Texaco (Caribbean), Inc., which has had
a long experience of business operations in portions of the Caribbean
area, while in the publication of this volume we have had the gener-
ous aid of Mr. Walter B. Fraser of St. Augustine. We are glad to
acknowledge here our grateful appreciation for this dual assistance.
We look forward to succeeding conferences and the resulting pub-
lications, which will provide students, teachers, and the public in
general with information of continuing and increasing value.
J. WAYNE REITZ, President
University of Florida
THE CARIBBEAN CONFERENCE SERIES
Volume I (1951): The Caribbean at Mid-Century
Volume II (1952): The Caribbean: Peoples, Problems, and
Volume III (1953): The Caribbean: Contemporary Trends
Volume IV (1954): The Caribbean: Its Economy
Volume V (1955): The Caribbean: Its Culture
Volume VI (1956): The Caribbean: Its Political Problems
Volume VII (1957): The Caribbean: Contemporary International
Volume VIII (1958): The Caribbean: British, Dutch, French,
Volume IX (1959): The Caribbean: Natural Resources
Map of Caribbean Area . . . ... Frontispiece
List of Contributors . . . . . . v
Foreword-J. WAYNE REITZ . . . . . .. .vii
Introduction: SOME HISTORICAL CONSIDERATIONS-
A. CURTIS WILGUS . . . ... .xi
Part I-AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES
1. Ralph H. Allee: AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTIONS AND
DEVELOPMENT . . . . . . 3
2. Frederick Hardy: SENILE SOILS . . . ... .14
3. Erich O. Kraemer: AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND
COMMERCE IN THE CARIBBEAN . . .. .44
4. Monroe Bush: FORESTRY'S CHALLENGE IN THE CARIBBEAN AREA 59
Part II-MINERAL RESOURCES
5. Linden B. Arthur: SIGNIFICANCE OF PETROLEUM IN THE
CARIBBEAN ........... 73
6. Cecil Morgan: THE CARIBBEAN AND ITS PETROLEUM . 78
7. C. C. Anderson: PETROLEUM AND NATURAL GAS IN THE
CARIBBEAN . . . . . . . 96
8. Richard H. Mote: THE OUTLOOK FOR CARIBBEAN MINERALS 120
9. W. H. Voskuil: MINERAL RESOURCES AND INDUSTRIES OF THE
CARIBBEAN . . . . . 130
Part III-WATER RESOURCES
10. C. Langdon White: WATER FOR IRRIGATION AND POWER
IN THE CARIBBEAN . . . . .. 145
11. Preston E. James: HARBORS AND WATERWAYS OF THE
CARIBBEAN . . . . . .163
x The Caribbean
12. William Saenz: MARINE FISHERY RESOURCES OF THE
CARIBBEAN . . . ..... . 177
Part IV-HUMAN RESOURCES
13. Charles Wagley: RECENT STUDIES OF CARIBBEAN LOCAL
SOCIETIES .. . . . . . .193
14. John M. Weir: HEALTH, NUTRITION, AND ECONOMICS-
A VICIOUS CIRCLE IN THE CARIBBEAN AREA . 205
15. Gordon K. Lewis: TECHNICAL AND HUMAN RESOURCES
IN THE CARIBBEAN . . ... . .219
Part V-EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES
16. Donald Mac Arthur: PROBLEMS IN LOCAL FINANCING
IN THE CARIBBEAN .... . . . .241
17. George A. Blowers: DOLLAR CAPITAL FOR DEVELOPMENT
PURPOSES IN THE CARIBBEAN . ... .246
18. A. J. Powers: CARIBBEAN OPERATIONS BOOTSTRAP . . 263
Part VI-SOME NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
19. Roy R. Rubottom: BASIC FACTORS AFFECTING LATIN
AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT. . . . .277
20. J. Fred Rippy: UNITED STATES ROLE IN CARIBBEAN
DEVELOPMENT . . . . . .. .286
Part VII-BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES
21. Lee Ash: NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE CARIBBEAN-SOME
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL AND LIBRARY NEEDS ... .301
INDEX . . . . . . . ... 311
SOME HISTORICAL CONSIDERATIONS
A STUDY of the natural resources of any area in Latin America
is today both timely and exceedingly well worth while. Particularly
is it important to examine at this time the natural resources of the
Caribbean area. Because of the nature of the topics discussed
and the eminence of the experts who discussed them, the papers
presented at our Ninth Annual Conference on the Caribbean con-
tribute on the whole a well-balanced picture of contemporary
resources of the Caribbean, of the problems connected with their
exploitation, and of the related problems involving trade and
national finance. As will be seen from the following chapters, many
of the governments today are exploiting their natural resources to
improve both their national and international economic relations.
Yet it is clearly evident from numerous statements in this volume
that no government in the Caribbean has as yet fully taken
advantage of all of the potential wealth constituting its national and
natural resources. Since this fact has been true for nearly four
centuries, perhaps a backward glance over this period will help in
understanding the present situation.
The first Spanish colony in the new world was founded by
Columbus in the last decade of the fifteenth century. For many
years thereafter the Caribbean area remained the center for the
government of the Spanish colonies in America. Here the first
xii The Caribbean
Spanish laws were introduced and applied for the government of
the colonies, for the exploration of the area, and especially for the
exploitation of the region. The Spanish political and economic
grip on the territories of the Caribbean remained until the early part
of the nineteenth century, although it was not finally given up in
Cuba until the end of that century. For some three hundred years
the Spanish national effort in America was directed toward providing
political control of the colonies in order to produce products which
the mother country needed or to open colonial markets for the
products of the mother country. Throughout these centuries the
Caribbean constituted a center for the control of commerce to and
from Spain. The presence of European freebooters, buccaneers, and
pirates in the Caribbean stimulated Spain to tighten her grip on
the Caribbean area and to attempt to monopolize its production,
markets, and trade for her own selfish national interests. This was
the reason for the famous mercantile system begun by the Spaniards
and copied and improved upon by the British, Dutch, and French.
For a full appreciation of the discussions in the following papers,
it will be helpful to examine briefly the political and economic
organization established by Spain in her American colonies. The
Spanish colonial system, in theory at least, was an admirably devised
one. In practice, however, it was complex, awkward, slow, expen-
sive; and for the people of both Spain and the colonies, it sometimes
was unusually burdensome.
Spain's American colonies constituted the Real Hacienda, or
"Royal Estate," privately and exclusively in possession of the king
of Spain. The Spanish Crown hoped, and attempted with varying
degrees of success, to incorporate a wide variety of native tribes,
in various stages of civilization and with hundreds of different dia-
lects and languages, into a more or less homogeneous group of
colonials. Since the Spanish Crown was also the head of the Spanish
Catholic Church, the Spanish kings attempted to make all colonial
peoples conform to the tenets of the Roman Catholic religion. This
was to be accomplished by education and by force, and thousands
of Indians who refused to adopt the new religion became martyrs
to their beliefs. In the Caribbean especially, several millions of
Indians died from diseases spread by the conquerors and from
overwork as virtual slaves.
All land in the colonies belonged to the Spanish Crown by virtue
of the Papal Grant of Demarcation, which gave to the king personally
EDITOR S INTRODUCTION
all the lands discovered and to be discovered. Hence, in the early
sixteenth century no individual could hold land except by grant
directly from the Crown or indirectly through certain conquistadores
who might reward their followers with land. All the natives on these
lands also belonged to the Crown, and they too could be disposed
of by grants to individuals.
In the sixteenth century, in order to assist the Crown in the
administration of its American colonies, there was organized at
Sevilla the Casa de Contratacion, which sometimes has been called
a "house of trade," since it embodied a trade clearing house, a
mercantile tribunal, an immigration office for the American colonies,
and a nautical college concerned with navigation problems. Later
a professorship of cosmography and navigation was established, and
all pilots sailing to and from the American colonies had to pass rigid
examinations. The Casa supervised all shipping to and from the
mother country and provided charts for the navigation of coastal
waters of the colonies.
A second political body was created shortly after the Casa to
supervise colonial affairs other than commercial and economic. This
eventually came to be known as the Consejo de Indias or "Council
of the Indies." Under the Spanish kings in the sixteenth century
this organization had supreme legislative and judicial control of
As already mentioned, the first colonial governments of Spain
in America were set up in the Caribbean area. Between his first
and second voyage Columbus drew up a plan for the colonization of
Espafiola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It was decided
that some two thousand families should settle there in three or four
separate towns, each with its own municipal government copied
after those of Castilla. No one could search for gold or other
minerals without a special license and then only when crops were
not being planted or harvested. Any gold discovered must be
smelted and stamped with a seal designed for that purpose. One
per cent of all the gold discovered was set aside for the use of the
Church in the colony. After a native revolt in 1495, it was decreed
that a system of native tribute should be established, known as the
repartimiento, which had been first tried in the Balearic Islands in
xiv The Caribbean
the thirteenth century. Under this system colonial Spaniards were
given land and the natives living on it-a practice remotely similar
to the feudal system with its resident serfs in Europe.
With the arrival of Ovando, Columbus' successor in Espafiola,
many of the political and economic rules were revised. One-half
instead of one-third of all mining revenues were now to be paid
to the Crown. All Indians were required to pay tribute or tithes of
their first fruits, and they were to be used in the search for gold and
other minerals. In theory the Indians were to be paid for their
services, but usually they were treated as slaves. Meanwhile, fol-
lowing Columbus' suggestion, Negroes were brought into the island
to serve as slaves in place of the natives. All discovery expeditions
were to have the approval of the governor, and each expedition must
be accompanied by a royal treasury official who was to supervise
the discovery and evaluation of all minerals found.
The repartimiento system soon came to be divided into two parts.
One, the encomienda, provided that the Indians could be forced to
work on the agricultural lands of individual colonists, while the
other, known as the mita system, allotted natives for work, chiefly
in mines, and after pearls were discovered on the coast of Venezuela
and Colombia, in pearl-diving. The mita system was by far the most
disastrous form of Indian labor, and many natives accepted it as a
death sentence. When one considers the rigors of the mita system
combined with the sometimes deliberate spread by the Spaniards
of such diseases as chicken pox, smallpox, and measles, it is not
surprising that within fifty years after the first settlement in the
Caribbean islands there were perhaps not more than five hundred
Indians remaining alive.
By this date it had become quite clear to the Spanish Crown that
Espafiola was not a land with many minerals. In view of the fact
that both Mexico and Peru had been discovered and their conquest
was well begun, and because gold and silver were found in great
abundance in those areas, the economic exploitation and develop-
ment of the Caribbean islands gradually declined. As a result many
settlers moved to the mainland colonies. But the economic future
of the islands was not too discouraging. Fortunately trade between
Spain and her American colonies passed through the Caribbean,
thus providing work to many people who otherwise would have
undoubtedly moved away. Moreover, new agricultural settlements
were encouraged by the Spanish government.
EDITOR S INTRODUCTION
By the beginning of the seventeenth century the economic pattern
established by the Spanish government in the Caribbean area had
become crystalized in the form in which it was to remain, with minor
modifications, for about two hundred years. It is therefore interest-
ing to examine a few important highlights of the controls over
economic life of the Caribbean area down to the beginning of the
Early in the sixteenth century the Spanish Crown had sent to the
Caribbean royal treasury officials, called oficiales reales, including a
treasurer, a comptroller, and other supervisors of economic affairs.
These men were instructed to establish customs offices and to make
sure that all taxes and dues were properly collected and accounted
for; they regularly reported to the Casa de Contrataci6n in Spain.
From the earliest days the king had maintained in the colonies
what came to be called his "prescriptive rights," whereby he was
the sole receiver of revenues obtained from harbor dues, brazil wood,
silver, gold and other minerals, salt, etc. Of the mineral products,
the king reserved for himself at various times one-half, one-third, or
one-fifth of the entire output. Eventually one-fifth came to be
established and was known as the "Royal Fifth." The Crown had
the exclusive right to levy or remove duties on all products carried
between Spain and the colonies, and it could decree bounties to
encourage certain products which were needed by the mother
country, such as mulberry trees, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and other
spices. At the same time the king could encourage various industries
by giving them favorable consideration through the removal of
duties on certain of their productions. Other sources of income for
the Crown came from the poll tax, the alcabala or excise tax, the
almojarifazgo or export and import duty, the averia or ship convoy
tax, the sale of political offices and papal indulgences, monopolies on
gunpowder, salt, tobacco, and quicksilver, and from church income.
These constituted the chief sources of taxes for the Spanish Crown
down to independence in the early nineteenth century.
Landholding in the colonies was rigidly controlled. All lands,
both "subsoil" and "surface soil," as well as all water belonged per-
sonally to the Spanish Crown. Individuals might acquire land from
the Spanish government by grant or by purchase. Some land could
be sold as private property while other land returned to the Spanish
xvi The Caribbean
Crown at the end of one or more generations. By an early law
(1513) conquistadores who founded towns were allowed to make
grants of land of about one hundred acres to individual families and
grants from five hundred to a thousand acres to individuals of noble
rank. Generally such ownership became valid, so far as title was
concerned, after four years of occupancy and improvement. In some
colonial villages and towns collective holdings in the surrounding
territory were allowed, thus creating agricultural villages somewhat
similar to those of Castilla in Spain. Within the towns themselves
lots were generally granted by the town founder or impresario. By
1571 the distribution of land was largely in the hands of royal treas-
ury officials. Mining lands, as distinct from agricultural lands, were
controlled by special legislation, and it was possible for one indi-
vidual to own surface soil agricultural rights and another individual
to own subsoil mineral rights. Several mining law codes were
promulgated in the sixteenth century after great quantities of gold
and silver were discovered in Mexico and Peru. Mining lands could
only be granted by the Crown, but obtaining such grants was not
as difficult as it might seem.
During the sixteenth century the Spanish Crown, because of
European conflicts, was always in need of funds. Consequently the
Crown fostered the discovery and opening of mines in the colonies,
and adventurers were encouraged to go to America for this purpose.
But since there were no mines of importance in the Caribbean
islands, the West Indies and La Florida were generally neglected,
both economically, and politically. Besides stimulating mining in the
colonies, the Spanish Crown also attempted to develop agriculture
and to encourage Spanish farmers to go to America. For example, in
1532 the Spanish Crown ordered that all ships going to the colonies
from Spain must carry plants and animals to the New World. Hence
a great variety of products was introduced into America, and
especially into the Caribbean. Among these were bananas, sugar
cane, grapes, olives, figs, coffee, rice, lemons, oranges, various cereals
and vegetables. Also horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, and even camels
were sent to the colonies for breeding purposes.
With the passing years commerce became an increasing concern
of the Spanish Crown. Because the value of the minerals produced
by the mines was so great, it became necessary for the Spanish
Crown to devise a system of exchange between the mother country
and the colonies which would be both effective and monopolistic.
Thus, as has been seen, Spain early adopted the mercantile system
which required that all products be carried in Spanish owned,
manned, and equipped ships. Until 1558 all trade from the colonies
to Spain was confined to the port of Sevilla, but in that year ships
from Espafiola and Puerto Rico were allowed to unload at Cadiz.
The Spanish Crown decided, about 1543, that for the sake of safety
and for protection against pirates and European enemies, all vessels
should go in fleets to and from the colonies. Finally, in 1561, this
so-called "fleet system" was definitely established.
In this year a royal ordinance provided that two fleets should be
equipped annually, generally in March or April, at the ports of
Cadiz, Sevilla, and San Ldcar. For a number of years thereafter
regulations provided that seventy-five to a hundred ships, each with
a maximum burden fixed at 550 tons-but which actually averaged
nearer 200 tons-should sail annually from Spain for the colonies.
This fleet system lasted until 1784. For the special protection of
fleets in the Caribbean, the Spanish Crown inaugurated a policy,
beginning in 1585, of fortifying West Indian ports. During the next
hundred years many of the harbors of the West Indies were thus
Ships bound from Spain to the American colonies went in a body
as far as Santo Domingo, which they usually reached in approxi-
mately thirty days. There they were divided into two parts, the
flota which proceeded to Vera Cruz and the tierra fire galleons
which went to the Pearl Coast and the Isthmus of Panama. On the
return voyage from the colonies to Spain the fleets generally
assembled at Havana, and went by way of the Florida Channel and
the Azores back to Spain. Usually one round trip was made each
year. All trade was directly supervised by the Casa de Contrataci6n.
However, in 1543 a consulado had been created at Sevilla by the
Spanish Crown. This was composed of merchants interested in the
American trade, and it included a court which heard civil pleas
growing out of colonial commerce. Eventually this body became
practically a monopolistic corporation engaged in colonial shipping.
When goods from Spain arrived at the Isthmus of Panama, they
were transported overland to Panama city on the Pacific by mules
carrying approximately 200 pounds each. Sometimes, for a part of
the distance, river boats were used, carrying approximately 35 tons
each. From Panama vessels of the "Peruvian Armada" took products
down to the Peruvian coast from where they were distributed over-
land as far south as Chile and Argentina. Spanish products which
landed at Vera Cruz in Mexico were transported overland to Mexico
City for distribution. Some products destined for the Philippines
were transported overland from Mexico City to Acapulco where they
were placed on the "Manila Galleon" for transportation to the Far
East. In the sixteenth century most of the trade from the Spanish
colonies to Spain followed these routes in reverse.
In order to facilitate trade within the colonies, "fairs" were estab-
lished early in the sixteenth century at Portobelo, Jalapa, Cartagena,
Mexico City, and several towns in South America. The fairs often
lasted for several weeks, and to them came traders from all parts of
the colonies. The greatest of these fairs was at Portobelo on the
Panama Isthmus, and in theory at least it served as a trading center
for the Caribbean colonies as well as for the South American
colonies. At these fairs Spanish and colonial merchants exchanged
gold and silver, as well as other minerals, and a great variety of
agricultural and manufactured products, such as cacao, quinine,
sugar, tobacco, vicufia wool, fabrics, leather goods, spices, wines,
drugs, ship's stores, household goods, and many other products
needed in Europe. Exorbitant prices were charged for food and
lodging, often representing an increase over regular prices of a
1,000 per cent. All merchants hoped to make at least 100 per cent
profit on all goods which they sold.
As already noted, the chief industry in the colonies was mining,
which was given a fresh impetus after the process of amalgamating
silver ores was introduced into Mexico in 1556. Another industry of
growing importance was pearl fishing in which at first Indian divers
were used and later Negroes. This industry was centered primarily
along the Caribbean "Pearl Coast" of South America and in the Gulf
of Lower California. After mining, various forms of agriculture
constituted the chief occupations in the colonies. Sheep raising was
important, especially in Mexico, and the wool produced in that area
in 1580 amounted to about 288,000 pounds. Other agricultural prod-
ucts of the Caribbean area were maize, cacao, vanilla, potatoes,
bananas, maguey, cotton, hemp, flax, and tobacco. A variety of fruits
were produced in the Caribbean area, and in the West Indian islands
and in Florida sugar cane was cultivated widely. Before 1600 some
attempt was made at silk culture, but this was never very successful.
In Mexico the pottery and textile industries were important, with
goods being made from silk, cotton, and wool. All of the colonial
EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION xix
industries were gradually improved because the Spanish Crown
encouraged skilled workers to go to the American colonies. Thus
some new industries were also developed, especially those which
provided products needed in Spain or in Spain's foreign trade.
Unskilled labor, however, was almost universal in the colonies. As
already noticed, the Indians were employed as virtual serfs and
later as slaves under the dual repartimiento system. In the West
Indies, especially because the natives disappeared so rapidly,
Negroes were imported from Africa in ever increasing numbers. The
first Negro slaves probably arrived in the West Indies in 1502, follow-
ing the suggestion of Columbus. In order to supply the American
colonies with sufficient numbers of Negroes, the Spanish government
early began the practice of letting out the business of obtaining
slaves in Africa to various persons or companies, usually foreigners.
These grants, each for a definite period of years, were called asientos,
and from these contracts the Spanish Crown regularly received
royalties. It is estimated that in the 200 years following 1550 the
average legal importation of Negro slaves into the Spanish colonies
was some three thousand a year. To this number, however, must
be added many more smuggled into the country by foreign traders.
The Negro slaves in the Spanish colonies were generally con-
sidered as animals and were often treated as such. Many restrictions
were placed upon them, such as forbidding them to wear gaudy
clothes, to drink alcohol, to ride horseback, or to dance. These and
other restrictions often led to slave uprisings, some of which were
extremely serious, as for example that in 1550 when the Negro slaves
seized the town of Santa Marta. The highest concentration of Negro
slaves was in the Caribbean area. As the years of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries passed, many Negroes became free and
many hybrid classes developed, with combinations of Negro, Indian,
and white blood. The society which resulted is today in evidence
everywhere in the Caribbean area.
The inevitable result of the economic policy of Spain in the Carib-
bean was that several European powers eagerly and actively coveted
the colonies, and on several occasions attempted to seize portions of
them. All of the enemies of Spain in Europe became enemies of
Spain in America, particularly in the West Indies where an illegal
European commerce called rescates flourished from the middle of
the sixteenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth century.
After the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the enemies of Spain
xx The Caribbean
were not only willing but able to deal economic and commercial
blows against Spain's colonies in the Western Hemisphere. Thus in
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Caribbean towns, islands,
and sea coasts were attacked frequently by Dutch, French, and
British seamen. Some of these individuals joined groups of free-
booters or buccaneers, and some were out-and-out pirates, who
seized, burned, and plundered colonial towns. No Caribbean island
or mainland coast was free from attacks, and the Spanish monarch
was early forced to create patrols called guardacostas. Another means
used by Spain of combating these foreign attacks was the establish-
ment of local trading companies, as for example the Quipuzcoa
Company created in 1728 at Caracas. In 1755 the Barcelona Com-
pany of Spanish merchants was founded to revive Spanish trade with
the West Indies, but this failed chiefly because of Spain's partici-
pation in the Seven Years' War in Europe.
For these and other reasons the Spanish government finally
decided to abolish the monopolized fleet system, and in 1748 it
virtually came to an end. From then on until the beginning of the
nineteenth century Spanish commercial restrictions on the colonies
were gradually relaxed, and eventually the whole area was thrown
open to the trade of the world.
The early nineteenth century saw the emergence in America of
numerous independent states resulting from the fragmentation of the
Spanish Empire. This was the inevitable and logical outcome of
three centuries of colonial exploitation and repression in America.
Among the high-ranking causes for the revolts of the various portions
of the Spanish Empire in America are economic factors of both an
internal and external nature. Most of the roots of these causes can
be traced back to the selfish, monopolistic colonial practices of the
Spanish Crown. The new political governments emerged in the first
quarter of the nineteenth century literally in a period of suppression,
repression, and depression, and with practically no political expe-
rience of a democratic nature. It is indeed surprising that they made
such rapid strides in attempting to organize themselves as demo-
cratic republics. Following independence, each newly created
government with varying degrees of enthusiasm took upon itself
the development of its natural resources. Since this could not be
EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION XXi
done by local capital, foreign countries were invited to give financial
assistance in the development of commerce, trade, and industry, and
to send experts to work out methods of production and exploitation.
Unfortunately in many areas, especially in the Caribbean, political
instability interfered with this very desirable objective.
Even by the beginning of the twentieth century none of the former
Spanish colonies in the Caribbean could be considered as self-
sufficient economically. Unstable currency, dishonest government
officials, civil struggles, and unscrupulous dictators, all played their
parts in retarding national development in the area. Nevertheless, an
increasing number of foreign investments were made in the Carib-
bean by British, Dutch, German, French, and United States
businessmen. Many loans were offered without any assurance that
there would be a return on the investment. In the United States
various groups of bondholders were forced to band together in order
to protect their investments in Latin America. And just when some
of the Caribbean countries were getting onto their feet economically,
the First World War disrupted their economic life. Following this
came the depression of the 1930's which further retarded economic
development in many of the Caribbean countries.
With the Second World War, the United States especially realized
that the Caribbean was an important area for the production of
numerous strategic materials which were soon encouraged in a
variety of ways, chiefly with United States government and business
capital. Following the Second World War, unfortunately, United
States government and individual financial attention was concen-
trated chiefly in a number of non-Latin-American areas. Only within
the last few years, as is pointed out in many of the following papers,
has the United States come to realize that it must help its neighbors
at its Caribbean front door to help themselves. This is the task of the
present and the future, but no one believes now that the Latin
Americans can and will develop their natural resources without
foreign assistance, and the United States believes that it should pro-
vide that assistance before some communistic countries step in and
do so first. It is hoped that the papers contributed to this conference
may provide both the information and inspiration for helping to
improve the economy and the society of the peoples of the Caribbean
A. CURTIS WILGUS, Director
School of Inter-American Studies
Ralph H. Allee: AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
W HEN I COMMENCED this paper, I had before me the pros-
pectus of this Conference and an outline map of the Caribbean. In
speculating on the fortuitous geographic circumstance which has
thrust Florida out into the tropics, it occurred to me that the
remarkable series of meetings which have taken place here have
some points in common with the Council of Nicaea. In reviewing
the situation,1* it turns out that the strategic fourth-century meeting
on the doctrines of the church was called in Nicaea because it was
of easy access to the eastern prelates by sea, but also because it was
a resort area to which, undoubtedly, people liked to come anyway.
Constantine himself had a summer palace nearby. Further in rela-
tion to our interest in productive resources, when I visited Nicaea
thirty years ago its double walls and Roman gates were barely
discernible. I stood among the ruins of its great theater and looked
across desolate hills and valleys where the silting of rivers, malaria,
wars, and the other harbingers of declining civilization had left a
wasteland in the place of the thriving countryside it must have been.
I hope that in the above reference I will not be accused of making
a prediction. But perhaps the Nicaea analogy can be carried a bit
further. The Council was called by Constantine for reasons beyond
the political expediency of the day. He had "recognized Christianity
as the most vital and vigorous of religions, and as the power of the
future." In fact the Christian church had become an institution.
The synod was so well recognized as a means of pronouncing on vital
questions that the convocation in Nicaea was within a well-accepted
*Notes to this chapter are on page 13.
4 The Caribbean
tradition. The Nicene creed satisfied few of the developing factions,
but it did define issues and promote an inward struggle towards the
truth which served as a moral equivalent to the outward persecu-
tions which had made an organic body of Christendom. It is not
too much to hope that discussions such as these seminars on the
Caribbean will help us to define our situations and lead toward
more loyalty and common action on our cause.
/ Certainly the hazards we face today are no less grave than those
f fourth century. We have a new kind ot barbarism on our
frontiers. And two-thirds of those in our camp are barely able to
meet the day-to-day struggle for existence, let alone put up positive
defenses against a subtle enemy. The relative situation, at least,
seems to be worsening. The higher population growth rates coupled
with lower rates of adapting technology is causing the gap to widen
between the countries of lower production per capital and those of
higher production. hat will the situation be if in the year 2000 the
world has to support some six billion as has been predicted and with
an increasing share of these in the areas now less able to supply an
adequate level of consumption?
Much can be and has been said about man in relation to his vital
resources. This brief discussion will attempt merely to put emphasis
on the role of institutions in solving the problems of development.
To make this worth doing we will have to assume that one of the
reasons we appear to be losing the battle is that we have concen-
trated too much on the easy, self-evident moves and have neglected
the tough and less obvious jobs. For instance, it is obviously desir-
able that modem methods and materials be used to reduce death
rates. It has seemed to be much less obvious that equal efforts should
be made to develop rationally the great areas which will now be
freed from malaria. In many cases we must accept the need for quick
results. The defense for "show cases," "potboilers," "morale builders"
has been well made. As Eugene Staley2 has put it, "It seems likely
that the motivations of democracy require for their sustenance more
in the way of tangible benefits now, or soon, than a totalitarian
regime needs to provide." But it is equally true that the world will
not be saved through the single process of keeping more people
alive, or by purely increasing production of certain crops, or by
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 5
reducing illiteracy. The problem is more complex, and nothing less
than an increase in the adequacy of the social mechanisms which
peoples have traditionally set up to serve their ends will suffice.
Arthur Mosher3 lays out the problem by referring to "economic and
self-generating resources." He contends that in agricultural develop-
ment it is not enough to concentrate only on the economic resources
of land, labor, and capital. The creative attitudes of a society,
enthusiasm for development confidence in ability to achieve, cumu-
lati-ponmpetence are in themselves "self-generating resources. He
says, ... by working on the economic resources ot a region with
imagination and enthusiastic confidence it is possible to strengthen
otheresources of attitude winch are augmented as they are used."
The above might be used as an argument for revolution. But it is
evident that changes in orientation can come about without drastic
social upheavals. The essentially educational process through which
Denmark changed from a land of poor grain farmers to prosperous
and cultured producers of butter, bacon, and eggs for the British
market is an enlightening example.
If increased consumption were a solution, the best procedure
would be to increase production in the areas where production
efficiency is highest. This was proved during the war. Every United
States farmer produces for twenty-two people. Every Latin Amer-
ican farmer, on the average, produces for less than six. The United
States produces surpluses, and most of Latin America imports food.
Of course this solution would be short-lived since increasing popu-
lation may make even the United States a food-deficient area in a
few years. Furthermore, increased consumption and economic
development are means, not ends. What we all want, in the words
of Eugene Staley, is "to build the kind of world we and our children
would like to live in. This means a world of peace and security, of
personal freedom and human dignity, of economic well-being-for
ourselves and others."4 He defines an underdeveloped country as
"characterized (1) by mass poverty which is chronic and not the
result of some temporary misfortune, and (2) by obsolete methods
of production and social organization, which means that poverty is
not entirely due to poor natural resources and hence could pre-
sumably be lessened by methods already proved in other countries."5
Poverty, then, is not necessarily an indication of underdevelop-
ment, nor is efficiency in sustaining people from a given area. The
United Kingdom with 0.55 acres of cultivated land and 0.6 acres of
6 The Caribbean
cultivatable land per capital produces 0.9 Standard Nutrition Units
per acre6 (based on calories per acre). Japan with 0.15 acres of
cultivated land and 0.2 acres of cultivatable land per capital produces
6.5 Standard Nutrition Units per acre. Brazil, on the other hand,
with 1 acre of cultivated land and 30 acres of cultivatable land per
capital produces 1.3 Standard Nutrition Units per acre. A combina-
tion of cereals and fish has made it possible for Japan to be largely
self-sufficient for food whereas Britain has been able to prefer steak
and kidney pie and has been the world's greatest importer. Dudley
Stamp calls Brazil an "emerging giant." Japan can do very little
more about the use of its natural resources. They can industrialize
as Britain did. But what is the situation in Brazil and similar
Looking over the world, we see that about 30 per cent of mankind
controls some 80 per cent of the world's wealth and enjoys per capital
incomes 20 or more times that of the 70 per cent of the world which
has 20 per cent of the wealth. With an exception or two, these rich
countries are industrialized, and the poor countries produce raw
materials. A natural conclusion is that industries make a society
wealthy. Hence, transferring the always scarce spending power
and talent from agriculture to promoting manufacturing and com-
merce would seem logical. This has seemed logical to many coun-
tries and has guided national policy. But again, the case is by no
means so simple: "Rich countries are industrialized because they are
rich; they are not rich because they are industrialized."7 This is a
conclusion to which Simon Rottenberg of the University of Chicago
came after exhaustive studies of economic development in Latin
America. History appears to stand on the side of such a conclusion.
We tend to forget that the industrial revolution was preceded by
the agricultural revolution. I1he social invention of the early nine-
teenth century whereby grains, legumes, and roots were combined
to increase livestock-carrying capacity of the land, to raise produc-
tion per man, to make feasible the use of fertilizers is much less
glamorous than the application of steam power to manufacturing
and transport. That other revolution was farmer's business. It built
no great fortunes and in itself established no empires. But the hands
freed by more productive farming and the markets created made
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES .'
industrialization possible. Countries which became somewhat pros-
perous by wide use of their natural resources were able to utilize
the advantages of elaborating raw materials and became rich. It
should be remembered that until less than two decades ago, agri-
cultural production was greater than industrial production in the
United States. Also an estimate made a fefa year ago inrdinatedl
that the United Sates spent some 50 million dllars per year on
asic research related to agriculture. Latin AmPrica with an equiva-
lent population spent about 2 millions for the same purpose.
Looking over these two worlds, we see that the rich countries can
afford effective social institutions whereas the poor countries cannot.
This "hen before the egg" complex has often led us to believe that
the quick-acting project that feeds people tomorrow is the most
feasible. And often it is. I remember talking to the representative
of a Foundation some years ago. He said he had spent two years
travelling over an underdeveloped area "looking for an honest man."
The kind of people who could be expected to advance science were
not available. We have all seen how many technical assistance
programs deemed it necessary to set up extension activities, or
supervised credit programs, and how few of these programs have
contributed basically to building the kind of institutions which
would turn out the technical manpower, apply the economic reason-
ing, make the basic studies of natural resources and human organiza-
tion which could hope to promote effective solutions. We have seen
the scholarship-granting agencies which have played the role of
Johnny Appleseed hoping that some of their efforts would make the
quest of Diogenes fruitful eventually. It would be witless to con-
demn these practices. All of us in this game of attempting to do
something about areas that need much in order to develop-and are
underdeveloped because they need much-have had to subscribe
at times to the "bootstraps technique." But there must always come
a time when stock should be taken of how well we are doing. We
are in one of these times.
Perhaps now is the time to remember the old Chinese proverb
"to act is easy; to know is difficult." Lindsay Robb in the Sanderson-
Wells Lecture for 1957 says, "Our hope for the future lies in the fact
that we are apparently the first civilization to discern the causes
8 The Caribbean
which brought down others in the past and are heading our own to
disaster."8 Some would say that we are also the first civilization
which could arbitrarily bring about complete disaster. From the
Pythagorean Brotherhood to the American Association for the
Advancement of Science has been a long road beset by many vicissi-
tudes. But the course has been irregularly upward. Few are the
places in the world where the methods of science are not known.
In most places they are at least beginning to be applied. We know
how to get down to the stubborn and irreducible facts even though
in most places the application of that knowledge is rudimentary and
inadequate. We also are beginning to know that man cannot live
by bread alone. There is essential agreement (at least among men
of good will) that the efforts to resolve conflicts without recourse
to violence and the attack on human poverty must be accompanied
by the liberation of the human spirit. Except in the Communist
world, we recognize that the ends do not justify the means and that
the interconnections between concepts and conduct and among
systems of ideas as among modes of behavior are often more im-
portant than the concepts and conduct per se. Probably we are
beginning to know that we know little even though the method for
knowing is at hand. An exception to this is seen in the totalitarian
part of the world where, for instance, social science is used only
for manipulation of peoples since all that is needed of knowledge
about human behavior is written in Marxism-Leninism (and Stalin-
ism until it became politically expedient to erase that name from
the materialistic trilogy).
Just as how development occurs (wars are usually between rich
countries is more important than development, so what institutions,
where, and why are strategic questions. In general an under-
developed area is one in which the institutional structures are in-
adequate or ill adapted to the needs. Institutions have the possibility
of establishing purpose and maintaining continuity. They can
accumulate experience. They can find and develop talent and put
it to work. They can reveal great abstractions and can also bore
down into the everyday realities. They can develop sustaining
philosophies of life germane to the needs of the present, enlightened
by the experience of the past, and applicable to the changing circum-
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 9
stances of the future. The countries which have much of their
development ahead of them will not be able to follow the leisurely
pace of past changes. They are subject to the forced draft of what
Staley calls "a revolution of rising expectations" fed by relatively
facile communication of the benefits now derived in the more
favored parts of the world. Changes will be so rapid that the key
figures around which development took place in the past will always
be out of date and unreliable. As Jorge Basadre has said, historically
generations become more important than individuals. It takes insti-
tutions to maintain the thought of a generation and project it into the
future. In his words the people "demand education as a right, even
arrogantly, not as a favor." The task of the university is "a social one
oriented toward nationalism and democracy." "In Latin America the
university must be a research center in all the sciences-anthro-
pology, ethnology, sociology, economics-so that the results can be
applied to national problems." They need "a feeling for the future,
not the past" and must have "adequate financial resources, equip-
ment, technical material and personnel, and good administration."9
So says a great Latin American scholar and educator, and there
are many others like him. Saying that countries which require rapid
development lack institutional support does not imply that they do
not have great leaders or great cultural achievements. But from
their own expressed convictions it is obvious that their institutions,
including universities and others engaged in education and research,
adult education movements (such as extension), and lay associations
(such as the producers' societies), are striving to find ways and
means to change with the times. However, none of them want in
the process to abandon their traditional values.
This is one of those epochs of confusion out of which at times has
come enlightenment. Pressures such as the rising commercial-
industrial groups versus the old established agrarian groups and the
pressure of the masses against both are being felt. Infiltration of
concepts and techniques from areas of earlier development are often
obvious positive factors even though local social machinery is not
fully adapted to using them. Here and there deliberate disruptive
influences are attempting to impede the natural evolution toward
more effective institutions. These latter influences can be more
important than they appear on the surface.
The tendency to change is uneven, more in some countries and
in some institutions than in others, rational and productive in some
10 The Caribbean
and dispersive in others. The best of what one sees is moving toward
programs based more on the needs of people and less on the rigid
academic disciplines or other traditional patterns. More men are
looking on their jobs as responsibilities rather than as purely sine-
cures. The idea is developing rapidly that teaching, the advance-
ment of learning, research, and efforts to reach people with the
product must in some way be articulated. This is the ferment arising
in the atmosphere of man's greatest attempts to live from and with
One must continuously be bedeviled by the amorphous complex of
cultural complications which attend a gathering social revolution.
The normal procedure no doubt is to be ridden down by the storm
or to blow before it. But unless we want to wake up afterward and
have little consolation beyond our laments at the social debris around
us, some big problems will have to be tackled in concerted ways and
with persistence. One way is to be more concerned with our uni-
versities as the servants of society which they themselves are saying
they ought to be. They are the most nearly autonomous and un-
biased of our institutions. Regardless of recent political influence in
some of them, of "hardening of the categories" in many of them, and
bothersome internal strife in most of them, the universities and other
institutions of university level are most likely to develop and hold
to constructive purposes and to influence all other institutions. With
50 per cent of our children having little or no elementary schooling,
there is a strong tendency to go into "fundamental education" and
illiteracy campaigns. But more children barely able to read and
write, with little to read and no reason to write, will not stimulate
our self-generating resources or mobilize our neglected talent, as
important as their education may be.
Working with universities has not always proved to be simple.
Many of them have been and will be "reluctant dragons." They
sense that administration tends to follow support. Basadre says "one
can ask for independence from political contingencies and freedom
of expression for teachers, to preserve democracy and independent
selection of professors, but one must not forget that the university
is not a state within a state. It is part of the national educational
system, and it can only raise the intellectual level of its students if
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 11
it keeps in touch with other branches of education through the
ministry."10 At the recent meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Inter-
national Exchange of Persons, several rectors and other university
representatives said in effect, "Use us more. We can select and
follow up fellowship students with a sense of pertinence to economic
and social trends. We can define the problems to which technology
should be applied. If we are not the servants of our communities
that we should be in order to do these things, that is an historical
accident which should be corrected sooner rather than later."
In some places new university cities are being constructed. The
budgets of some of them have been increased. International
organizations have been helpful, as has foundation aid for staff
preparation and equipment. The move to relate American colleges
and universities to sister institutions throughout the world is prob-
ably the most encouraging development in recent years. Unfortu-
nately, too many times the university relationship has been used to
promote jobs other than the fundamental task of building up the
institutions themselves. It is to be hoped that the several failures
in these projects will not in any way discourage a movement of such
Little is being done (in Latin America at least) to help the
university define its role or to promote cross-fertilization and com-
mon action. More effective exchange of experiences between insti-
tutions in the hemisphere and with the rest of the world would be of
real utility. More effort should be made to facilitate common use of
scarce resources for certain kinds of research and teaching. For
instance, provision for agricultural engineering, social sciences and
home economics is so scarce in Latin America that they will not be
made available in all institutions for years to come. With a larger
constituency and aid which might be made available from several
sources, these neglected fields could develop high competence in
certain institutions and be used in common by several countries. The
same reasoning could apply to certain countries which are too small
to support the expensive fields such as agriculture, engineering, and
medicine. Developments in the southern part of the United States
are good examples of regional cooperation, as is the program of
regional cooperation on research throughout the country. If this rich
country finds it advantageous to cooperate regionally, how much
more important such cooperation would be in areas where so much
more needs to be done with so much less available!
12 The Caribbean
I hope I have not failed to recognize sufficiently that some things
are being done to help institutions play their role. I should also
mention that the recent Organization of American States and United
States Academy of Science Meeting on the Integral Planning of
Research and Education is a good first step. The soon to be inaugu-
rated United Nations Special Projects Fund could be a strategic
utility. We understand it is to concentrate on developing informa-
tion and institutions necessary to promote development. But in
general the effort has been unworthy of the urgency of the needs
if we are to narrow the premises of war and broaden the base of
peace, as is claimed to be the objective of the United Nations
recently by its Secretary General. On the same occasion the Israeli
delegate stated that our precarious position arises from the fact
that diplomacy has stood still while science has rushed ahead. This
discussion has had the aim of emphasizing that the means of redress-
ing the dangerous imbalances of the present day lie in human
dedication to the cause of welfare made effective by social
In closing I want to read some words by Cordell Hull which are
just as vital today as when expressed at the Conference for Mainte-
nance of the Peace at Buenos Aires in 1936.
Since the time when Thomas Jefferson insisted upon a "decent
respect to the opinions of mankind," public opinion has controlled
foreign policy in all democracies.... There should be brought
home to them [the people] the knowledge that trade, commerce,
finance, debts, communications, have a bearing on peace.... In
all our countries we have scholars who can demonstrate these facts;
let them not be silent. Our churches have direct contact with all
groups; may they remember that the peacemakers are the children
of God. We have artists and poets who can distill their needed
knowledge into trenchant phrase and line; they have work to do.
Our great journals on both continents cover the world. Our women
are awake; our youth sentient; our clubs and organizations make
opinion everywhere. There is a strength here available greater than
that of armies. We have but to ask its aid; it will be swift to answer,
not only here, but in continents beyond the seas."
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 13
1. See article in Encyclopaedia Britannica.
2. The Future of Underdeveloped Countries (New York: Harper and
Brothers, 1954), p. 343.
3. Technical Cooperation in Latin America (Chicago: The University of
Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 267-270.
4. Op. cit., p. 377. 5. Ibid., p. 13.
6. Dudley Stamp, World Crops (London, April, 1958).
7. Simon Rottenberg, Reflexiones sobre la Industrializacidn y el Desarrollo
Econ6mico (Universidad Cat61ica de Chile, 1957).
8. Journal of the Soil Association (London, 1957), p. 13.
9. Quoted in Radl Nass, "Jorge Basadre Looks at the Latin America Univer-
sity," Americas, X (September, 1958), 13-16.
10. Quoted in Nass, "Jorge Basadre," p. 14.
11. Quoted in Francis J. Colligan, Two Decades of Government-Sponsored
Cultural Relations (Washington: Department of State, 1958), p. 19.
Frederick Hardy: SENILE SOILS
FOR PURPOSES OF COMPARISON a few words may be said
about Brazilian soils. Nearly one-sixth of Brazil, comprising 3.75
million acres of land, is covered by savanna vegetation known as
"Campo Cerrado," which consists of scrub and grass, and "Campo
Limpo," which consists of grass alone. These plant formations are
interspersed with islands of palm trees or forest. The characteristic
Cerrado soil is an exceptionally deep, highly permeable, noncoherent,
uniform, finely micaceous red loam which has developed over
Archean, Pre-Cambrian, and Early Paleozoic rocks which comprise
the Brazilian Shield.
The parent rocks are mostly phyllites, calcareous shales, gneiss,
and granite, with intrusions of dolerite. They have been exposed to
the agents of soil formation for over one hundred million years, for
they were developed on a vast peneplain which was elevated in
Cretaceous times and afterwards dissected into smoothly rolling
Laboratory data for soil samples, collected within the different
parts of the Campos near Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais State, are
given in Table 1.1* The marked variation in base status between the
soils supporting the several kinds of vegetation are believed to be
the cause of their differentiation.
The rainfall over the Campos is about 60 ins. a year, and most of
it falls in seven hot months. The seasonal average temperature
varies from 720 to 650 F., and the daily range from 170 to 230 F.1
Potential evapotranspiration probably does not exceed 3 ins. a
month, so that during the wet season there is a large surplus of rain
*Notes to this chapter begin on page 41.
ANALYTICAL DATA FOR BRAZILIAN CERRADO SOILS
(surface soils, 0-12 ins.)
Reac- Exchangeable Bases (m.e. 100 g.) Avail. Ratios
tion Clay Exch. H+ Total Sat. P205 Ca Ca+Mg
Vegetation pH % cap. Ca. Mg K Mn Al bases % p.p.m. Mg K
Cerrado (1) 4.30 52.9 10.1 0.49 0.75 0.06 0.01 8.79 1.31 13.0 1.2 0.7 20.7
(2) 4.60 45.8 7.7 0.38 0.74 0.19 0.01 6.38 1.32 17.2 1.3 0.5 5.8
(3) 4.10 61.7 11.0 0.36 0.40 0.15 0.37 9.72 1.28 11.6 5.8 0.9 3.7
(4) 4.25 71.0 9.7 0.35 0.60 0.11 0.01 8.63 1.07 11.0 1.6 0.6 8.6
Means 4.31 57.7 9.6 0.39 0.62 0.13 0.01 8.38 1.24 13.2 2.5 0.7 9.7
Palm (5) 5.20 28.8 12.7 5.39 2.60 0.56 0.24 3.91 8.79 69.2 4.7 2.1 14.3
Savanna (6) 5.30 23.8 10.1 4.72 1.44 0.12 0.28 3.54 6.56 64.9 2.0 3.3 51.3
Pasture (7) 5.00 43.8 12.8 3.56 1.42 0.43 0.24 7.15 5.65 44.1 3.5 2.5 11.6
(8) 5.30 18.3 11.0 5.23 1.99 0.25 0.24 3.29 7.71 70.1 1.6 2.6 28.2
Forest (9) 5.05 24.8 8.5 2.24 1.60 0.21 0.21 4.24 4.26 50.1 3.6 1.4 18.3
Means 5.17 27.9 11.0 4.23 1.81 0.31 0.24 4.34 6.59 59.7 3.1 2.4 24.7
Forest* (10) 6.30 32.4 24.7 17.50 2.99 0.22 0.46 3.55 21.10 85.6 5.2 5.8 93.0
Source: Adapted from P. de T. Alvim.1
This soil occurs close to a limestone outcrop.
Discussion: The mean values for the Cerrado soil show its extreme degree of acidity (pH 4.3) presumably due to long-
continued leaching which has lowered its base status to only 1.24 m.e. of total bases and 13.2 per cent base saturation. The
low contents of calcium and magnesium have greatly diminished the ratio of the sum of these bases to potassium, giving
Available phosphate content also is extremely low. The content of organic matter of the Cerrado soil varies in its different
parts and is highest in the forest. It accounts for most of the exchangeable bases.2 Fertilizer experiments on this soil have given
appreciable responses to limestone and phosphate materials. The effects of limestone on the nutrient status of the Cerrado soil
are shown by the data for the forest area occurring close to a limestone outcrop (sample 10). Preliminary pot-tests gave evidence
. of acute calcium shortage. Deficiency of other elements was also indicated.
16 The Caribbean
water, and percolation within the soil column proceeds at a rapid
rate. The limiting factor is lack of nutrients.
The economic utilization of the vast area of Campos soil is one
of the most urgent needs in Brazil, and the various problems which
it presents are now under investigation. It occurred to the writer
that similar "senile" soils might occur within the Caribbean region,
and that a comparative study of their properties and agricultural
relationships might stimulate interest in their economic potentialities.
I. Examples of Caribbean Senile Soils
In order to appreciate the scope of the pedological and agricultural
problems involved in the utilization of senile soils, three diverse
examples occurring in the Caribbean region will be considered.
They are located in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and northern Venezuela
In Costa Rica there occurs a wide range of volcanic lavas and
fragmental rocks whose ages are determinable by their order of
accumulation and their relationships with intercalated and super-
imposed fossiliferous sedimentary strata. The age of the main
volcanic suite of rocks is late Miocene to early Pliocene, or some
twenty million years. Uplift, folding, and erosion followed the
Miocene-Pliocene eruptions, and then another volcanic episode
occurred in Pleistocene to Recent times, during which much of the
old land surface was covered with new volcanic ejecta. The volcanic
rocks mostly comprise andesite and basalt.3
Soil samples were collected for chemical analysis in 1953 within
three of the main physiographical regions of Costa Rica, namely,
the Coastal Plains, the East Central Upland Region (mean altitude
2000 ft.), and the Meseta Central (mean altitude 4000 ft).4
The average annual rainfalls and temperatures for the two upland
regions are 110 ins. and 730 F. and 70 ins. and 680 F., respectively.
The rainfall is fairly uniformly distributed, and the dry season is not
well marked. Potential evapotranspiration is estimated to be about
50 ins. a year. The vegetation of the highlands was originally Sub-
Tropical Forest, but since 1890 it has been mostly coffee. The relief
is rolling to hilly. These conditions have favored profound weather-
ing and leaching of the highly porous fragmental materials, and the
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 17
soil profiles are generally deep. The natural fertility of the soils
is described as medium to low.4
Averaged data for B- and C-horizons (12-24 ins.) of three soil
series developed on Miocene-Pliocene volcanic rocks, are presented
in Table 2. Similar data for soils developed on Recent volcanic
rocks are also given in the table for comparison. Each of the values
in the table is the mean for three to six separate soil samples.4 Pro-
visional data for a hypothetical soil on the borderline of nutrient
deficiency are also given as standards of reference.
Calcium is definitely low in amount in the Costa Rican soils though
not as low as in the Cerrado soils. It is much less in quantity in
these senile soils than it is in Recent volcanic soils (see Table 2)
which contain up to fifty times as much exchangeable calcium.
Magnesium also tends to be low in amount and about the same as
that in the Cerrado soils. Potassium is more plentiful in the Costa
Rican soils than in the Cerrado soils.
The nutrient relations of the senile soils of Costa Rica that are
now being utilized for growing coffee are particularly important,
and field experiments are being carried out to determine fertilizer
requirements. Erosion has removed much of the humic topsoil so
that the main agricultural problems in many areas now concern the
subsoil. It has indeed already been found that these soils which
contain only small amounts of organic matter in their uppermost
layer do not usually respond to mineral fertilizers containing nitro-
gen, phosphorus, and potassium unless suitable organic materials
are also added.5 The most difficult problems, however, relate to
minor elements.6 The uptake of these elements by the coffee plant
is being examined by means of foliar analysis.7
Response to magnesium, which nowadays ranks as a major
nutrient, has been obtained, for example, with cacao seedlings
growing in the nursery on colluvial soil derived from old volcanic
materials.8 The effects of the fertilizer treatments on the exchange-
able base contents of the original deficient soil are shown in Table 3.
The recorded values are each the means of four determinations.
The averaged values in Table 2 for minor nutrients occurring in
the soils of Costa Rica are somewhat in excess of adequacy, accord-
ing to the provisional standards suggested. In general, the minor
element status of Costa Rican soils is low though variable. In recent
years the incidence of foliar deficiency symptoms in the coffee crop
has become widespread, presumably mainly through loss of organic
ANALYTICAL DATA FOR SENILE SOILS OF THE UPLANDS
(subsoils, 12-24 ins.)
OF COSTA RICA
Exchangeable Bases (m.e.. 100 g.) Minor Nutr. Ratios
Exch. H+ Total Sat. Ca Ca+Mg
Region pH cap. Ca Mg K Mn Al bases % Zn B Mg K
(1) East 4.9 36.6 0.19 0.07 0.37 .005 36.0 0.63 1.7 1.6 0.99 2.7 0.7
(2) Central 4.5 26.7 3.17 1.80 0.20 .081 21.5 5.25 19.7 2.9 0.80 1.8 24.8
(3) Meseta 4.9 31.5 1.15 0.31 0.83 .071 29.1 2.36 7.5 1.9 0.71 3.7 1.8
(4) Central 5.0 13.5 0.52 0.17 0.29 .063 12.5 1.04 7.7 0.6 1.63 3.1 2.4
Means 4.8 27.1 1.26 0.59 0.42 .055 24.8 2.32 9.0 1.8 1.03 2.1 4.4
COMPARISON OF SOILS OVER RECENT AND OLD VOLCANIC EJECTA
(5) Recent 5.2 49.7 10.70 1.19 0.41 .003 37.4 12.3 24.8 4.2 0.54 9.0 29.1
(6) Old 4.9 36.6 0.19 0.07 0.37 .005 36.0 0.63 1.7 1.6 0.99 2.7 0.7
STANDARDS FOR COMPARISON
of growth 2.00 0.30 0.15 .015 1.0 0.50
Source: Adapted from F. B. Sands.4
Soils: (1) Ventura Sandy-Clay, San Juan Sur
(2) Las Vueltas Clay, Las Pavas
(3) Alajuela Sandy-Loam, Grecia
(4) San Isidro Sandy-Loam, San Isidro El General
(5) Cervantes Silty-Clay, Aquiares
(6) Same as (1)
Discussion: The four senile Costa Rican soils are all highly acid (pH 4.8). Their exchange capacities range from 13.5 to 36.6
m.e. and are considerably higher than those of the Cerrado soils of Brazil, although they contain less organic matter. Their
contents of exchangeable bases vary appreciably but, on the average, they are small (mean value, 2.32 m.e.). The degree of base
saturation is extremely low, even lower than in the Cerrado soils, being less than 8 per cent in all but one case.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES l1
ANALYTICAL DATA FOR A COSTA RICAN SENILE SOIL
TREATED WITH MAGNESIUM SULFATE
(m.e. 100 g.)
Exch. Sat. Reaction
Treatments cap. Ca Mg K % pH
Control 35.5 0.47 0.05 0.59 3.0 4.75
Magnesium sulfate 37.5 0.56 0.29 0.55 3.5 4.87
MgSo. plus calcium 38.8 1.84 0.17 0.56 6.7 5.04
MgSO plus CA (OH), plus 38.1 2.12 0.22 1.29 9.5 5.21
potash and phosphate
Standards of comparison
Provisional limits of -- 2.00 0.30 0.15
Source: Adapted from D. Boynton and A. L. Erickson.8
Discussion: The data indicate the extremely low exchangeable calcium and
magnesium status of this soil and its improvement by treatment with lime and
magnesium salt, and also the rather high exchangeable potassium content
which, however, is further raised by treatment with potassic fertilizer.
soil by erosion. The most prevalent deficiency is that of boron.7
When this is corrected by the addition of small amounts of borate
to the soil, coffee production in some cases is trebled.6 The next
important deficient element is zinc, but the deficiency is easily cor-
rected by spraying the coffee foliage with a dilute solution of zinc
salt. Magnesium deficiency in coffee soils is widespread in Costa
Rica and is often induced by the use of potassic fertilizers, since
magnesium and potassium are mutually antagonistic. It is easily
corrected by applying large dosages of magnesium salts or of
dolomitic limestone to the soil. The addition of commercial nitrog-
enous and phosphatic fertilizers has been found to reduce mag-
nesium deficiency in many instances. Calcium deficiency has also
been reported in coffee fields in certain areas.7
Manganese is deficient in many coffee-growing districts of Costa
Rica, but excessive and toxic in others. Shortage of this element is
especially well marked where soil reaction is above pH 6.0, owing
to immobilization of manganese as basic carbonate. Excess is usually
associated with high soil acidity (reactions below pH 5.0) and
20 The Caribbean
possibly, in some cases, with a high content of manganese-bearing
minerals in the original volcanic rocks. When the amount of
exchangeable manganese in the soil rises above 0.04 m.e., partic-
ularly when excess is associated with deficiency of other minor
elements, the coffee plant frequently suffers from an affection known
in Costa Rica as "caf6 macho"9 which greatly reduces the yield of
fruit, often by as much as one-half. The data in Table 2 indicate
that exchangeable manganese probably occurs in toxic amounts in
all samples but one of senile soils that were analyzed, but that it is
deficient in the sample of Recent volcanic soil.
Sulfur is nowadays regarded as just as important a nutrient ele-
ment as phosphorus and likely to be especially deficient in senile
soils. Its importance has been recognized in Costa Rica,10 though so
far analytical data concerning this element have not been published.
The conditions that occur in Costa Rica, and the prevalence of
nutrient deficiencies over wide areas of senile soil, are repeated to
greater or lesser extent in other countries of Central America, and
in view of the fact that adequate steps have not yet been taken
to combat soil erosion, the deleterious effects of nutrient deficiency
are likely to become more serious in the future.
The island of Puerto Rico, latitude 180 N., consists of a Cretaceous
core comprising high mountains made up mostly of subbasic frag-
mental volcanic rocks associated with lava flows, shales, and lime-
stones. These have been intensely folded and intruded into by
serpentinous igneous rock, diorite and granite. The core is flanked
by shales and limestones of Oligocene and Miocene age which form
coastal benches and flats."
Senile soils, described as "paleosols," occur in Puerto Rico in four
different geological settings; namely, (1) Cretaceous fragmental
volcanic rocks, probably exposed since Miocene times on the highest
peneplain (4000-ft. altitude); (2) an intrusive diorite bathylith,
exposed since Pliocene times; (3) an intrusive dyke of serpentinous
rock of the same age as the last; and (4) a bed of sandy limestone,
intercalated between Pleistocene coastal deposits.2 The derived
soils are named respectively (1) Catalina-Cialitos series, (2) Utando
Loam, (3) Nipe Clay, and (4) Isolte Loamy-Sand. They are
described in the Puerto Rico Soil Survey Report,13 but analytical
data are not available for all of them.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES I2
The Catalina Clay has been the most studied in the laboratory
of these paleosols.14 The annual rainfall of the region where it chiefly
occurs in Puerto Rico is 75 to 95 ins., with hardly any dry season.
The rainfall greatly exceeds the potential evapotranspiration. The
average annual temperature is about 700 F.13 Laboratory data for
a 20-ft. profile in Catalina Clay are given in Table 4.14
The parent rock of the Catalina Clay is andesitic tuff whose chief
minerals are andesine, augite, and serpentine. The parent material
(C-horizon) derived by hydrolytic weathering of the rock was found
to consist mainly of kaolinite, hydrous mica, gibbsite, and hydrated
ferric oxide, the two last-named free oxides comprising over 20 per
cent of the whole (Table 4). Appreciable amounts of free silica
were also found to occur.14 The formation of these clay minerals
from the primary minerals of the rock proceeds at its surface or
within the upper part of the exfoliated material, much silica being
lost in the process together with the soluble bases, sodium, calcium,
and magnesium as bicarbonates and carbonates. Potassium is mostly
retained. The resulting soil parent material is consequently highly
acid. The process is described as "laterization."14
The clay is highly permeable to water "because the large amount
of sesquioxides tends to keep it flocculated."14 The occurrence of
kaolinite and of hydrous mica as the two most important secondary
minerals of Catalina Clay was later confirmed by standard crystalo-
The phosphate status of the Catalina soil has recently been
investigated by modem fractionation methods.20 It was found that
83.2 per cent of the total phosphorus present in a sample containing
440 p.p.m. of the element occurred as "occluded" phosphorus con-
sisting of iron and aluminum phosphates embedded in particles of
hydrous ferric oxide (see later). Of the remainder, 9.7 per cent
consisted of ferric phosphate, 0.2 per cent of aluminum phosphate,
1.6 per cent of tri-calcium phosphate, 1.8 per cent of organic phos-
phate, and 3.5 per cent unaccounted. Thus the proportionate amount
of phosphorus available to crop plants at any instant must be
The structure of Catalina Clay subsoil has been described as
"strongly developed, angular; apparent specific gravity 1.2 to 2.0,
very fine porosity; unstable (when exposed at the surface) 25 per
cent overlap; dense packing, strong cohesion."2' It is friable and
easy to work. The content of aggregates of size 0.05 to 2.00 mm. was
LABORATORY DATA FOR A SENILE SOIL (Catalina Clay)
OF THE UPLANDS OF PUERTO RICO
(m.e. 100 g.) Ratios Free Oxides
Depth Exch. H+ Total Sat. SiOa SiO,
Horizon (ins.) pH cap. Ca Mg K Al bases % R.O. A18Oa SiO, AlO. Fe2O.
(1) Al 12 5.3 8.4 3.40 1.52 0.19 3.29 5.11 60.8 1.33 1.84 2.03 8.87 15.04
(2) A2 36 6.4 8.1 3.33 1.01 0.13 3.63 4.47 55.2 .. 3.83 8.33 14.94
(3) B1 84 5.5 8.6 2.80 1.72 0.09 3.99 4.61 53.6 1.48 1.97 4.05 6.97 13.35
(4) B2 120 4.4 .... -- 2.16 5.21 13.06
(5) Cl 4.2 9.9 0.64 1.22 0.19 7.85 2.05 20.7 1.63 2.11 9.00 9.20 11.76
(6) C2 240 4.4 6.6 0.75 0.91 0.07 4.87 1.73 26.2 1.40 2.12 2.85 4.34 17.79
Source: Adapted from J. A. Bonnet.14
Discussion: The composition of the C-horizon samples, taken at depths below ten feet, is markedly different from that of the rest.
These C-samples are extremely acid (pH 4.3), but their exchange capacity is low (8.3 m.e.) and comparable with that of the
Brazilian Cerrado soil. The gross contents of exchangeable bases are fairly low, particularly calcium and potassium. The degree
of saturation by bases is fairly high, mainly because of the rather high content of magnesium. The A and B horizon samples of
this Catalina profile contain more than four times as much exchangeable calcium as the C-horizon samples, otherwise their com-
position is similar.
Minor elements were not determined; evidently they have not yet been widely investigated in Puerto Rico.15 Deficiencies of
calcium, magnesium, and potassium have been reported to occur in some coffee growing areas. Calcium deficiency has been
corrected by liming.16 Deficiencies of iron and manganese have been recently recorded in coffee growing on Catalina Clay and
of magnesium and zinc on coffee growing on Cialitos Clay which resembles it.17 "Available" boron contents of 0.30 and 0.15
p.p.m. have been found in successive 12-in. depths of Catalina Clayl8 which, when compared with the provisional standard (0.50
p.p.m.), would be regarded as inadequate for coffee.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES ZO
found to be about 92 per cent in the subsoil. Percolation rates
ranged from 0.5 to 2.0 ins. per hour.21 Other determinations of the
rate of infiltration gave a value of 4.0 ins. per hour.22 The moisture
relations of Puerto Rican soils have been extensively studied;3
Catalina Clay was proved to have an unusually low water-holding
capacity between pF 2.7 and pF 4.2 (field capacity and wilting
point) which accounts for its extraordinary proneness to drought.24
This feature is also displayed by the Cerrado soil of Brazil and by
the old upland volcanic soils of Costa Rica. Similar soils to Catalina
Clay occur in other Antillean Islands.
A large area of senile soil extends southwest of Lake Valencia in
Northern Venezuela over parts of the states of Carabobo and
Cojedes. This soil has been named "Guataparo Clay" and designated
"lateritic." The parent rock consists of alluvium and colluvium of
early Pleistocene age; it is about one million years old. It has been
elevated since its deposition and partly eroded into undulating relief,
so that drainage, both external and internal, is good. The area
comprises llano; the vegetation is mainly "chaparro" and consists of
gnarled shrubs and grass with herbaceous annuals. The climate is
wet (60 ins. of rain per year) and hot (800 F. average temperature)
with a well-marked dry season. The natural fertility of the Guata-
paro soil is exceedingly low and its present agricultural usage is
poor pasture. In many respects it resembles Cerrado Soil and should
be capable of supporting forest except for its low nutrient status.
The soil parent material is uniform to a 30-ft. depth. It is
brownish-red in color and gravelly-sandy in texture, though mostly
a clay loam. The structure is small, angular, blocky. The component
clay minerals have not been determined. Surface erosion has re-
moved much of the organic topsoil. The reaction is pH 4.3 and the
contents of exchangeable calcium, magnesium, and potassium are
1.5, 0.5 and 0.08 m.e. respectively.25 Reference to the standards
given in Table 1 indicates that calcium and potassium contents are
well below the limits of adequacy, and magnesium content is a little
more than adequate. Aqueous extracts of the soil contained 60 p.p.m.
of manganese which is an extremely high amount.
Pot-tests with maize, potato, and cotton as indicator plants showed
that the soil is markedly toxic.25 The plants developed chlorosis
24 The Caribbean
which resembled that produced in sand cultures treated with a solu-
tion of 0.2 per cent manganese sulfate. Liming to pH 6.5 prevented
toxicity. The addition of phosphate without liming had the same
effect. Chlorosis did not appear when a complete NPK fertilizer was
applied to the pot-cultures but, after one month of continued
irrigation with distilled water, symptoms of calcium deficiency
Field experiments showed that liming with the addition of phos-
phatic fertilizer increased the yield of maize from 260 to 2,200 lb. ac.
Liming alone had little effect, even though the plants showed signs
of magnesium deficiency, but a dressing of phosphatic fertilizer,
equal to 150 Ib. ac. P205, increased the crop by 350 lb. ac.25 With
potatoes a dressing of 1,000 lb. ac. of mixed NPK fertilizer (13-13-20)
gave a yield of 6,400 lb. ac., which is as high as the best yields on
good land. Some of the potato plants showed leaf crinkling due to
manganese toxicity. With cotton a dressing of mixed fertilizer,
supplying 42 lb. N, 70 lb. P205, and 60 lb. K20 per acre, produced a
crop of 1,300 lb. ac. of cotton of good quality fiber. The practical
results convincingly demonstrate the great commercial potentiality
for high crop production of the Guataparo senile soil.
Similar soils to the Guataparo Clay occupy vast areas of undulat-
ing savanna or llano country in Venezuela and Northern Colombia,
and their agricultural development is very urgent.
II. Examples from Extra-Caribbean Regions
A study of the extensive literature on rock weathering and soil
formation in different parts of the world, published during recent
years following the application of new and refined methods for
identifying and determining the contents of clay minerals in the end
products, has provided relevant information which greatly helps to
elucidate the meaning of soil senility. In the following account only
those examples in which the magnitude of the rainfall is likely to be
considerably in excess of that of the potential evapotranspiration,
and in which percolation is sufficiently rapid so that the possibility
of waterlogging is excluded, will be considered. Other examples
relating to conditions associated with low rainfall, or with restricted
drainage, although they provide important information regarding
the early stages of mineral decomposition, are scarcely relevant to
a study of senile soils.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 25
The published literature deals with soil formation in one or
another of three main aspects; namely, (1) the chemical composition
of the various products of breakdown and leaching and the trans-
formations that occur between parent rock and soil, (2) the identities
and amounts of new minerals that are generated and of the resistant
residues that remain at the various stages of soil formation, and (3)
the identity, state of occurrence, availability, and quantity of the
different plant nutrients that are liberated during weathering,
notably exchangeable bases and minor elements. There is still urgent
need for comprehensive studies which combine these three different
aspects of tropical soils and link them with physical considerations
regarding soil structure, in order to facilitate the formulation of
better agricultural systems.
Perhaps the most comprehensive soil research that has been carried
out in extra-Caribbean tropical areas are those that concern the soils
and crops of Hawaii. The results of these researches have consider-
able bearing on problems associated with senile soils; consequently
they will now briefly be discussed.
RESULTS OBTAINED IN HAWAII
Investigations on soil genesis have been carried out in the
Hawaiian Islands for many years. The following is a summary of
the main results obtained up to 1949.26 The chief parent rocks are
basalt and andesite, comprising lavas and fragmental rocks that were
ejected from volcanoes of widely differing ages. The annual rainfall
ranges from 30 to 500 ins. and the average annual temperature from
740 F. at sea-level to freezing point at 12,500 ft. The dry season
varies in length and intensity according to altitude and aspect.2
The soils of Hawaii have been classified into four main groups,
SOILS RAINFALL SiO2:R2a0 RATIO
1. Low Humic Latosol 15-80 ins. 1.8-1.3 (molec)
2. Humic Latosol 60-150 0.8-0.5
3. Hydrol Humic Latosol 120-300 0.6-0.3
4. Ferruginous Humic Latosol 25-150 1.0-0.05
Chemical analyses have indicated that the clay minerals that char-
acterize the Low Humic Latosol group belong to the kaolin class,
whereas those of the Ferruginous Latosol group are mostly oxides
of alumina, iron, and titania, with only small amounts of kaolin.
26 The Caribbean
The oxides were thought to have been formed by the breakdown
of the kaolin by weathering.
It is particularly important to note that Ferruginous Humic Latosol
occurs under a wide range of rainfall at various altitudes, so that
the decomposition of kaolin must have involved an enormous length
of time.2 This conclusion is supported by the fact that the geo-
logically oldest island (Kauai) has the largest extent of Ferruginous
The climate under which Low Humic and Ferruginous Humic
Latosols have developed has a definite dry season. Assuming that
the potential evapotranspiration is 4.0 ins. per month,28 and that the
dry season comprises five months each with 2.4 ins. of rain, then a
simple calculation shows that the total annual rainfall must have been
greater than 40 ins. in order to provide a surplus of wet-season rain-
fall for rapid and deep penetration into the soil column which is
necessary for rock weathering and soil formation. It is conjectured
that Ferruginous Humic Latosol has evolved from Low Humic
Latosol, so that under the lower rainfall regimes, assuming that the
climate has not in the past changed appreciably, the age of the
Ferruginous Latosol must indeed be exceedingly great.
The climate under which Humic Latosol and Hydrol Humic
Latosol have developed, by contrast, is at present continuously wet,
and is presumed to have been wet throughout their formation.
Consequently, the chemical and mineralogical composition of this
pair of soil groups differs markedly from that of the other pair.
In the case of the first pair, silica content was found to diminish in
both the A- and the B-horizons with the progress of weathering.
Alumina content, on the other hand, was found to increase during
the early stages when clay minerals were forming and to decrease
rapidly as they were breaking down in the late stages. Iron oxide
and titania were found eventually to accumulate in the A-horizon
as a surface crust consisting of hematite and anastase. In the case
of the second pair that was formed under continuous rainfall,
alumina content was found to increase steadily with increase in
rainfall, but silica and iron oxide were both found to decrease in
amount. This suggests that alumina becomes stabilized (as gibbs-
ite), whereas iron oxide becomes mobilized and is partly leached
away, probably as colloidal limonite, under continuous heavy
The main difference between the effect of a climate with distinct
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES Zi
dry season as opposed to one that is continuously wet is apparently
the solubilization of iron oxide and its subsequent segregation, pre-
cipitation, and hardening as ferruginous crust, together with the
gradual release and loss of silica and alumina, in contrast to the
segregation of alumina and the release and loss of silica and iron
oxide when the rainfall is continuous. Drainage impedence was
observed to nullify the dry-season effect in the one case and water-
logging to induce resilication of alumina into kaolinite, with the
concomitant removal of iron as soluble ferrous compounds under
the prevailing reducing conditions, in the other case.26
Subsequent to the conclusion of the investigations whose main
findings have been summarized above, the mineralogical composition
of the clay fractions of Hawaiian surface soils that had been formed
under increasing rainfall was ascertained by thermal analysis. Their
chemical composition and base exchange capacities were also deter-
mined. The chief results were as follows.29
1. Under annual rainfalls of around 40 ins., kaolins comprised the
main clay minerals and made up about 60 per cent of the clay
fraction. A fair amount of gibbsite and a small amount of iron
oxide were also present. The exchange capacity was low, namely,
15 to 30 m.e.
2. Under annual rainfalls of between 40 and 75 ins., the amount of
kaolins was smaller, between 25 and 40 per cent, and of oxides
greater. The exchange capacity was fairly high, namely 40 to 60 m.e.
3. Under annual rainfall above 75 ins., only a small amount (less
than 15 per cent) of kaolins, but a large amount of limonite, were
found, together with some gibbsite. The exchange capacity was less
than that of the last, 40 to 50 m.e.
With increasing rainfall, it was found that the silica : sesquioxide
molecular ratio fell from 1.5 to 1.0 and the silica : alumina molecular
ratio from 2.0 to 1.3, which implies a large loss of silica. The content
of potassium was found to remain high (1.0 to 0.5 per cent) under
rainfalls up to 75 ins., but to fall rapidly under rainfalls greater
than this. Magnesium content tended to fall with falling potassium
content. Potassium appeared to be eliminated at a lower rate than
magnesium up to a certain stage of weathering, but beyond this
both were lost at the same rate.29
In another later investigation, the minerals occurring in the clay
fractions of representatives of the four main soil groups were identi-
fied and their amounts assessed by X-ray and thermal analysis, with
the general results expressed in Table 5.30 31
28 The Caribbean
CLAY MINERAL CONTENTS OF HAWAIIAN LATOSOLS
Dry Season Continuously Wet
Clay Low Ferruginous Hydrol
Minerals Humic Humic Humic Humic
Kaolins 50 4 18 0
Montmorins 8 0 14* 0
Mica 0 0 3 6
Quartz 0 10 3 3
Allophane 8 22 0 18
Gibbsite 5 22 16 28
Goethite 0 4 14 19
Hematite 20 28 20 2
Magnetite 5 0 0 13
Anastase 3 5 5 6
Source: Adapted from T. Tamura, M. L. Jackson, and G. D. Sherman.30, 31
*Formation believed to be due to slight drainage impedence.
Discussion: The identification of the clay minerals occurring in Low Humic,
Humic, and Hydrol Humic Latosols, which may be regarded as a rainfall
sequence, supports the findings that:
1. Minerals of the kaolin class are completely decomposed under high rain-
fall and free drainage, provided a sufficient length of time is allowed.
2. The products of their decomposition are mainly gibbsite (with allo-
phane) and variably hydrated ferric oxide (with anastase).
3. The degree of hydration of the ferric oxide product depends on the extent
of the desiccation that proceeds which is particularly severe when there is a
marked dry season. In the Hawaiian examples, drying out does not occur
in the case of Hydrol Latosol, but it is well marked in the case of the
Ferruginous Latosol in which a crust develops consisting mainly of anhydrous
4. The moisture environment mainly determines the direction of weathering
and the identity of the end products. Since this may fluctuate throughout the
year, the different mineral entities comprising the end products may vary
considerably in chemical composition and in degree of hydration.
III. Stages of Weathering
Mainly as a result of the Hawaiian investigations, a sequence of
weathering has been established consisting of thirteen confluent
stages, each of which is identified by the occurrence of one or more
characteristic minerals.33 The last four of these stages, which are the
advanced stages of chemical weathering, are:
1. Kaolinite stage: with halloysite, etc.
2. Gibbsite stage: with allophane, boehmite, etc.
3. Hematite stage: with goethite, limonite, etc.
4. Anastase stage: with leucoxene, ilmenite, zircon, rutile, etc.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES Zd
The following notes on the main features of the four advanced
stages may help to indicate their particular significance.
Kaolinite stage. Soils belonging to this stage are represented in
Hawaii by Low Humic Latosol. Similar soils are common in all
parts of the humid tropics and in many subtropical and temperate
regions as well. They occur, for example, in the southeastern states
of the United States,34 and are widespread in the Caribbean region
in areas having free drainage. Kaolinite stage soils also develop
characteristically over hard limestone (Terra Rossa) such as occurs
as coralline terraces in Barbados, Bermuda, and the Bahamas, or as
hilly outcrops of metamorphic limestone or forameniferal limestone
of various geological ages in many of the Antillean Islands. The
limestone inclusions or "impurities" from which the kaolinic minerals
are formed consist of contemporaneous volcanic ash35 or of already
well-weathered materials comprising marine sediments.
Transition stage. The degree of breakdown of kaolinic minerals,
which leads to the formation of allophane and gibbsite and of
various hydrates of iron oxide and to the liberation and loss by
leaching of silica, nutrient bases, and minor elements, depends on
the environmental moisture factor as well as on temperature and
the length of time of weathering and leaching. The progress of
breakdown and leaching is indicated by changes in reaction (pH
value). Gibbsite appears when the degree of acidity has fallen
below pH 5.5 at the stage where most of the liberated silica has
disappeared. Phosphate insolubility increases with fall of pH value.
The exchange capacity becomes smaller, particularly when the
breakdown of the kaolins is accompanied by periodic desiccation
(dry-season effect) which brings about dehydration. The degree
of saturation by bases also diminishes; for example, it may be about
60 per cent at pH 6.3, 40 per cent at pH 5.5, 20 per cent at pH 4.3,
and nil at pH 3.8. Aluminum-ion appears when the reaction falls
below about pH 5.5, and together with manganese-ion and perhaps
ferric-ion, may produce toxicity in plants.
The transition stage of weathering is represented in Hawaii by
Humic Latosol and Ferruginous Humic Latosol. It is represented
in the Caribbean region by the more advanced phases of Catalina
Clay, some Old Volcanic soils of Costa Rica, and the Guataparo
Clay of Venezuela. The Cerrado soil of Minas Gerais, Brazil,
described at the outset, may also belong to this stage, although as
far as the writer is aware, its mineralogical composition has not yet
30 The Caribbean
been determined. The Nipe soil13 of Cuba and Puerto Rico, devel-
oped over serpentine, also belongs to this transition stage. In South
Africa36 and northeast Australia,37 the transition stage is represented
by Red and Yellow Latosols, and in southeast United States by
several soil series developed over basic igneous rocks or sediments
rich in iron compounds.34
Gibbsite stage. The true gibbsite-allophane stage of weathering
is represented by Hydrol Humic Latosol in Hawaii, developed under
a continuously wet climate and excessively high rainfall. This soil
must be extremely old, judging by the almost complete absence of
kaolinite, and by its low R203 : SiO2 ratio which is often less than 0.5.
Certain Caribbean bauxite occurrences also belong to the gibbsite
stage, for example, the commercial bauxites of Jamaica, Haiti, and
the Dominican Republic, which have developed over limestone of
the Oligocene Age.38 These Caribbean bauxites contain 43 to 50
per cent A1203, 17 to 21 per cent Fe2Os, 0.5 to 5.5 per cent
TiO2 and less than 5.5 per cent Si02. The soils that have developed
over bauxite in Jamaica have exceedingly low base exchange
capacities, low degrees of base saturation, and low pH values. Crop
plants growing on them frequently show leaf symptoms of minor
nutrient element deficiencies.39
Hematite stage. Hematite develops under desiccation and oxida-
tion; it is one of the most insoluble substances known. It weathers
or softens with great difficulty. Goethite occurs usually under moist
conditions and complete oxidation. Hence Ferruginous Humic
Latosol contains more hematite and less goethite than Hydrol Humic
Latosol. Limonite, having a yellow color, is the most highly hydrated
and the most reactive of the hydrates of ferric oxide. The true
hematite stage of weathering is rare and is represented by certain
iron ores and the so-called ferruginous laterites. The kind of soil
it produces cannot have much agricultural value.
Anastase stage. This stage-the ultimate one-is produced by the
enrichment of the residual weathered material by titania. Reducing
conditions cannot be avoided under the intensely wet conditions
that reach their highest expression in this stage, so that iron oxide
is mostly removed in the ferrous state, leaving titania (as anastase)
as well as the highly resistant original minerals, zircon, rutile, etc.,
among the residues. Examples occur in Hawaii,30 but the material
seems not to have been identified in the Caribbean region. It cannot
have much significance as a soil former.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 31
IV. Nutrient Relations of the Weathering Stages
The level of soil fertility is partly determined by the stage of
weathering which the parent rock has reached under the operation
of the factors of the environment. Nutrient bases are released at an
early stage and rapidly removed where drainage is free. The follow-
ing is the order of loss by solution generally accepted (Polynov,
Cl, SO4, Ca, Na, Mg, K, SiO2, Fe20O, A1203
1000 570 30 14 13 12 2 0.4 0.2
After the SO4 stage, the material is base saturated; after the K
stage, it is highly acid and mainly kaolinic; after the SiO2 stage, it
is gibbsitic and hematitic.
The most naturally productive soils of the tropics are those whose
parent materials have not yet reached the peak of the kaolin stage
of weathering, for example, the younger "Red Loams."33 These soils
combine a high base status with a highly porous and permeable
structure. Best agricultural results have been obtained in the tropics
with soils of this kind. Beyond the kaolin stage productivity rapidly
Loss OF INDIVIDUAL NUTRIENTS
Chloride is seldom deficient in soils because it is constantly being
replenished by additions of common salt carried down by rainwater.
Sulfate is frequently lacking in late-stage soils which therefore often
respond to sulfatic fertilizers. Calcium, sodium, and magnesium,
released by mineral decomposition, are partly retained in the soil
at the earlier stages of weathering by adsorption as exchangeable
bases which are readily available to plants and comprise the main
source of their mineral nutrition. It is generally agreed that the
degree of base saturation is one of the most important factors deter-
mining the growth of plants in acid soils. Potassium is held in the
middle stages of weathering within the crystal structure of hydrous
mica (illite) from which it is eventually liberated on further pro-
found weathering, leaving kaolinite. Many soil parent materials in
the late kaolinite or early gibbsite stage thus contain appreciable
amounts of hydrous mica which provides nutrient potassium to the
growing crop, although frequently unaccompanied by sufficient
divalent bases to maintain nutrient balance. The Catalina and the
Cerrado soils which contain mica evidently belong to this category.
32 The Caribbean
A higher degree of correlation between potassium in acid soils and
the amount of crop growth is obtained with potassium extractable
by 0.01 N hydrochloric acid rather than with exchangeable potassium
extractable by neutral salt solution.40
The minor elements copper and cobalt, which are usually associ-
ated with basic igneous rocks, occur only in small quantities in soil
parent materials containing gibbsite,41 which implies that they are
eliminated during the later stages of weathering. They are seldom
completely deficient in highly acid senile soils, however, so that crop
failures are only rarely traceable to copper deficiency and live-stock
disorders, caused by cobalt deficiency in forage, occur only in excep-
tional cases. Zinc is isamorphous with magnesium in certain soil
minerals; hence zinc deficiency is often associated with deficiency of
magnesium. Iron is least available in anhydrous ferric oxide (hema-
tite) and most available, although liable to be toxic if in high con-
centration, when reduced to the ferrous state. It is often rendered
unavailable to plants when the soil contains excessive amounts of
manganese, because of ionic antagonism.33 Boron is released by the
weathering of tourmaline which may be a slow process, so that the
element is liable to be deficient in nonhumic soils in all but the last
stage of weathering. Molybdenum deficiency is associated with
senile soils lacking resistant heavy minerals.4 Both borate and
molybdate are most soluble, and therefore most available to plants,
when soil reaction is alkaline, except where calcium-ion concen-
tration is high, as in calcareous soils, when these acidic ions are
liable to precipitation as insoluble calcium salts.
Phosphorus occurs in soil parent materials at the gibbsite and
hematite stages of weathering, chiefly as phosphates or hydroxy-
phosphates of aluminum and iron, in which it is almost entirely
unavailable to plants.33 These phosphatic compounds may be
occluded within hydrous iron oxide particles from which they may
readily be separated and dissolved by the application of reductant
chelating reagents such as dithionite-citric solution.20, 4 Thus a
weathering sequence is recognized among the various phosphatic
mineral components of soils, as follows: Ca3(P04)2 -- AlPO4 --
FePO4 + occluded P04.42 In the later stages of weathering, for
example in "latosols," the percentage amount of these different
entities has been found approximately to be: 1 : 3 : 13 : 78 :, the
rest (5 per cent) being organic phosphorus.42
The capacity of kaolins to sorb phosphate apparently depends
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 30
partly on their degree of hydration (halloysite phase) associated
with disordered stacking in the laminated mineral crystal, and partly
on the presence of alumina as a superficial coating over the crystal
faces which is removable by chelating agents.43 44
As the bases disappear and are lost in the drainage during weather-
ing and leaching, the cation exchange complex of senile soils
becomes saturated with hydrogen-ion and the kaolinite crystals
decompose peripherally into silicic acid and exchangeable cations,
mainly aluminum-ion. Thus, during the transition between the
kaolinite and the gibbsite stages of weathering when acidity has
become intense, silica is eliminated and aluminum forms its hydroxide
which rapidly "ages" into gibbsite. If the kaolin mineral contains
substituting iron and oxidizing conditions prevail, ferric oxide is
concomitantly produced in similar manner. If instead the source of
iron is some primary ferro-magnesian mineral or secondary ser-
pentinous mineral, ferric oxide is formed by direct hydrolysis and
The base exchange capacity of pure kaolinite is small, lying
between 2 and 10 m.e. It is higher in allophane and halloysite and
other hydrous forms of kaolinite which depend for their formation
and perpetuation on a continuously moist environment. The colloidal
behavior of hydrous iron and aluminum oxides ought theoretically
to be decided by their isoelectric points which are generally con-
sidered to lie around pH 6.5. Hence, in acid soils in the gibbsite
and hematite stages of weathering, they should behave as colloidal
cations and exhibit a tendency to combine with or adsorb anions
such as sulfate, chloride, and nitrate, as well as phosphate and
possibly silicate, borate, and molybdate. Conclusive evidence of
such behavior, however, is not forthcoming in the literature, as far
as the writer is aware. On the contrary, evidence has been adduced
to prove that hydrous aluminum oxide has a high cation exchange
During the hydrolytic decomposition of kaolins, the aluminum-
ions and the hydrogen-ions that are liberated enter the base exchange
complex and establish equilibrium with similar ions in solution. At
reaction values below pH 5.0, a sufficiently high concentration of
aluminum-ion may develop to render the soil toxic to certain plants.
The concentration of aluminum-ion is stated to lie between 10 and
34 The Caribbean
20 p.p.m. of aluminum in the toxic acid soil solution. Some plant
species (called "aluminum plants") are capable of withstanding
high concentrations of aluminum-ion; they accumulate large but
harmless quantities of the element in their tissues. Other plant
families, notably Gramineae (for example, maize and sugar cane)
are susceptible and suffer from root rots following the blockage of
their conducting tracts by aluminous deposits laid down in the nodal
plates.46 The vegetation that occurs naturally over uncultivated land
that has been cleared of forest and consists of highly acid aluminous
senile soil, is generally sparse and includes a considerable number of
aluminum plants belonging to certain genera and families that are
considered to be ancient or senile in the sense that they are gradually
becoming extinct.47 Chief among these is the primitive family
Rubiaceae,48 which is well represented in plant associations that are
characteristic of some tropical savannas. Other aluminum plants
include certain ferns (for example, Gleicheniaceae), tree ferns, and
fern allies (for example, Lycopodiaceae), and mosses.48 This sort
of vegetation is said to occupy Hydrol Humic Latosols in Hawaii26
which belong to the advanced gibbsitic stage of weathering.
V. Agricultural Relations of Senile Soils
From foregoing considerations, it is evident that the agricultural
relations of senile soils whose parent materials have reached the late
kaolinite or early gibbsite stage of weathering, or have passed beyond
to the hematite stage, must differ essentially from younger soils
such as the Red Loams whose parent materials have not completed
the kaolinite stage.33 The most obvious differences lie in the fact
that, during pedogenesis, the senile soils have evolved concurrently
with the natural forest vegetation associated with them which
becomes in due course self-supporting on its own humic residues.
Mineral nutrients which had been gradually accumulated in the
superficial organic layer as the soil passed through its successive
weathering stages now become involved in a circulatory system
between the humic soil and the foliage which, on being shed, returns
the nutrients to the forest floor. The trees at this stage no longer
depend on the nutrients liberated by the deep-seated parent rock.
Eventually the thickness of the much leached and inert soil parent
material becomes so great that the root systems are completely
contained by this material and not even the tap roots are capable of
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 00
reaching the surface of the parent rock. The root systems obtain all
their necessary nutrients from the humic layer, though the trees still
partly depend on the subsoil for their water supply.
Removal of the primeval forest by felling and burning and loss of
humic soil by erosion soon expose the upper part of the parent mate-
rial. The nutrient status of this material is considerably lower than
that of the rich humic soil that has been lost, although it still
possesses an open porous structure and presents large root room
suitable for extensive root development.
The great difference between the nutrient status of the humic
layer of a senile soil carrying a forest vegetation that has presumably
developed concurrently with it and the nutrient status of the parent
material is shown by the laboratory data in Table 6 for a Red Latosol
occurring in the Belgian Congo.49
UTILIZATION OF ERODED SENILE SOILS FOR AGRICULTURE
In considering the means whereby senile soils may be utilized,
differentiation must first be made between senile soils that have
developed under a climate which includes well marked annual dry
seasons and those that have developed under a climate having con-
tinuous rainfall without any dry season, for it has already been
indicated that these two kinds of senile soils differ essentially in their
component mineral assemblages. The first group comprises in
Hawaii Low Humic and Ferruginous Humic Latosols and the second
Humic and Hydrol Humic Latosols.30 31 Ferruginous Humic Latosol
seems not to possess much agricultural potentiality, however, because
of the mechanical difficulties involved in the disintegration of the
hematite crust, and because of its extremely low base exchange
capacity and low base status.31 Similarly, Hydrol Humic Latosol is
also unsuited to agricultural utilization, except by special crops such
as tea, mainly because it occurs where rainfall is too high for the
satisfactory growth of most tropical agricultural plants, being well
over 150 ins. a year. Hence the remaining two groups only will be
considered. Both have considerable agricultural value and respond
particularly well to treatment.
The first group, Low Humic Latosol, is dominated by the presence
of abundant kaolinite which forms aggregates of diameter 2 to 1 mm.
firmly cemented by hematite. Consequently it is extremely porous,
highly infilterable and permeable, and resistant to erosion. Chem-
ically its base status is medium to low and its available phosphate
LABORATORY DATA FOR A SENILE FOREST SOIL PROFILE, BELGIAN CONGO
Reac- Org. Exchangeable Bases (m.e. 100 g.) Avail. Ratios
Depth tion Matter Clay Exch. H+ Total Sat. P2Os Ca Ca+Mg
ins. pH % % cap. Ca Mg K Mn Al bases % p.p.m. Mg K
AO 0-1 7.0 10.7 51 42.2 26.4 5.3 0.5 .15 4.9 37.3 87 19 5.0 63.4
Al 1-8 6.1 3.8 50 27.4 9.2 2.5 0.2 .12 7.7 19.7 61 6 3.7 58.5
B1 13 19 5.9 1.0 66 14.7 2.3 1.6 0.2 .04 5.3 9.4 44 ... 1.4 19.5
B2 19-40 5.3 0.7 68 15.0 1.4 1.2 0.1 .05 6.1 8.9 31 3 1.2 26.0
B3 40-72 5.3 0.3 76 12.5 1.1 0.6 0.2 .04 5.3 7.2 26 1.8 8.5
C1 72- 80 5.3 0.6 72 12.9 1.3 0.5 0.4 .07 5.3 7.6 30 4 2.6 4.5
Source: Adapted from C. E. Kellogg and F. D. Davol.49
Discussion: The data indicate that if this profile were to be truncated by the removal of the top 8-in. layer of humic soil, the
material below would be quite incapable of supporting either the same kind of original forest or a heavy yielding agricultural
crop. Probably it would be capable only of supporting a sparse savanna kind of vegetation such as that which now occupies
large areas in the Campos of Brazil and parts of the llanos of Venezuela and Colombia which are believed once to have been
covered by luxuriant rain forest.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 07
status is low. The second, Humic Latosol, is dominated by gibbsite
and goethite-limonite which also form aggregates, though not so
stable and more likely to disintegrate into powdery material than
those that comprise kaolinitic Low Humic Latosol. Because of the
presence of large amounts of active hydrous ferric oxides and gibbs-
ite, the capacity of Humic Latosol to sorb phosphate is extremely
large and this feature, together with its low exchange capacity, low
base status, and acute minor-element deficiency, distinguish it from
Low Humic Latosol. These features of Humic Latosol are charac-
teristically though variably displayed by the Caribbean examples
of senile soils described in this paper.
SOIL FACTORS AND PRODUCTIVITY
The chief environmental soil factors controlling crop growth are
(1) root room, (2) water supply, (3) air supply, (4) nutrient
supply, and (5) harmful factors.
Root room. The fact has been stressed that senile soils which have
not suffered erosion during their formation are generally exception-
ally deep and well structured, and offer large root room to the grow-
ing plant. This valuable feature largely compensates for their low
contents of plant nutrients and greatly favors and facilitates the
successful employment of fertilizers and amendments in the agri-
cultural utilization of their truncated representatives in which the
humic top soil is missing.
Water and air supply. These are eminently favorable in typical
representatives of the Humic Latosol group of soils, but they may
operate as limiting factors to growth in the Low Humic Latosol
group which often suffers seriously from drought during the dry
season because of the inadequacy of the rainfall and the great depth
of the water table. In both groups, the quantity of water retained
between field capacity and wilting point (pF 3.0 to pF 4.2) is
apparently so small that during periods when the rainfall is short
of the potential evapotranspiration loss, the soil rapidly dries out
and the crop plants suffer markedly from water strain. Frequent
irrigation should therefore be employed during dry weather, pref-
erably by means of a "sprinkler" system which is more economical
of water, though more costly to install and operate, than the cus-
tomary channel irrigation system. Where channel irrigation is
employed, the fact that senile soils may easily be puddled by smear-
38 The Caribbean
ing provides a ready means of constructing stable water-proof
channels for distributing the water over the fields.
Nutrient supply. In view of the extremely low base status and
the low base exchange capacity of senile soils, the question of
their amelioration by the judicious use of manures, fertilizers, and
amendments becomes the main agricultural problem, requiring a
thorough appreciation of their unique physical and chemical features
for its successful solution. The first need is to increase the exchange
capacity of the soil, particularly where erosion has removed the
humic upper layer. In order to accomplish this, a large increase
in organic matter content is required. Under humid tropical condi-
tions this cannot be economically effected by the growing of green-
manure crops,50 for the reasons that (1) the magnitude of the crop
which would be needed is far greater than that which could be
produced without the application of large quantities of mixed
fertilizer, (2) the plowing in of a bulky green-manure crop would
be too expensive, and (3) the rate of decomposition of the dry
material is far too rapid under the prevailing temperatures to ensure
an appreciable permanent increase in total soil organic matter.
In the case of senile soils that have already been planted in tree-
crops such as coffee, cacao, or tea, the organic status of the soil may
usually be raised by the application of heavy mulches (where the
material may easily and cheaply be grown and transported) or of
appropriate manures and fertilizers which will increase the bulk
of the litter that accumulates on the ground through leaf-fall.
On the other hand, the problem of raising or maintaining the
organic matter content of the surface layer of senile soils occurring
over large areas of savanna country is probably most easily and most
economically solved by introducing a kind of shifting cultivation
system by encouraging the vigorous growth of forest vegetation
to replace the savanna or poor pasture vegetation, through the use
of appropriate mineral fertilizers. Theoretically, the cheapest fer-
tilizer material to use would be some form of finely pulverized phos-
phatic rock or basic slag (Thomas' meal) fortified with minor
elements (Mo, B, Zn, Cu) by the addition of small amounts of their
salts or chelated complexes and perhaps also of sulfur as calcium
sulfate and magnesium as sulphate or carbonate (dolomite). These
substances would also supply adequate quantities of nutrient cal-
cium. Nitrogen might be provided naturally by nonsymbiotic
nitrifying organisms already present in the soil, such as Azotobacter
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES OY
and Clostridium, or blue-green algae which would obviate the need
for expensive nitrogenous fertilizers.50 These organisms would multi-
ply rapidly after the addition of phosphate.
The fertilizer mixture should be applied uniformly on the natural
soil surface without tillage, either by hand or scattered by means
of a spreading machine. Assuming that root room, soil moisture, and
soil-air supply are satisfactory, simple fertilizer treatment of the
sort suggested should encourage the growth, not only of indigenous
plants of the savanna association, but also that of any new species
that might gain access to the area. In due course, the character of
the natural vegetation would be changed from shrub grass to forest,51
and the land could be developed for agriculture by the customary
processes involving felling and clearing with or without burning.
An alternative procedure in the case of savanna would be to
destroy all trees and palms and to develop the grass sward by apply-
ing fertilizers as in the last case, together with a suitable grass-seed
mixture, or allowing native species of grasses and legumes to popu-
late the area under proper control. It is assumed in either of these
alternatives that the root systems of the plants will accumulate
sufficient potassium from the deep soil layers to assure a well
The question of liming senile soils depends on whether specific
crop plants that are unable to tolerate highly acid conditions are to
be grown. The low buffering capacity of senile soils and their in-
herent deficiencies of minor elements make it imperative that over-
liming be avoided. The approximate lime requirement should be
easy to determine, by chemical tests and pot trials, for any prescribed
final pH value or percentage degree of saturation by calcium, and
these tests might be followed by appropriate field experiments by
means of which the costs and profits could be assessed.
Instead of expensive fertilizers, finely ground rock minerals or
rocks might be used, along with rock phosphate, to raise the nutrient
status of senile soils. It has been demonstrated that when highly
base deficient clays, having most of their base exchange capacity
saturated with hydrogen-ion and aluminum-ion, are mixed in sus-
pension in water with powdered primary rock minerals, the basic
nutrient elements in the minerals are rapidly liberated.52 The par-
ticular mineral that reacts most effectively in this way has been
shown to be anorthite (calcium plagioclase) which yields up one
hundred times as much calcium to the acid clay as to water. Next
40 The Caribbean
to anorthite, hornblende and augite (ferromagnesian minerals)
are the most reactive. Potassium-bearing mica also behaves simi-
larly, but not so effectively. Basic igneous rocks, or fragmental
equivalents that contain these minerals, should produce the same
results with highly acid senile soils, and could be used therefore to
raise their contents of nutrient calcium, magnesium, iron, and potas-
sium, as well as of minor elements contained in basic rocks. The
use of finely powdered rock has proved beneficial when applied to
the acid sugar-cane soils of Mauritius developed over basalt.
Harmful factors. Toxicity due to aluminum and iron and to man-
ganese may readily be eliminated by liming and by applying
phosphatic fertilizers that form insoluble phosphates with the toxic
ions. Liming may fail, however, to release occluded phosphates
unless the final reaction of the soil is raised above pH 6.5.
VI. Tests of Soil Senility
The following are the main features which characterize senile
soils and which may therefore be employed as tests of senility:
1. Low SiO2 : R203 and low SiO2 : A1203 molecular ratios which
are generally less than 1.0 and 1.8 respectively.
2. Low base exchange capacity, generally less than 10 m.e. per
3. Low contents of exchangeable bases, notably calcium and
4. Low pH value (high degree of acidity) which follows from
the last, generally less than pH 4.5.
5. Low but variable content of exchangeable potassium which is
the last of the major nutrient elements to be released by weathering
and lost by leaching.
6. Low exchangeable Ca: Mg ratio, usually less than 2.0.
7. Extremely low exchangeable Ca + Mg : K ratio, usually less
8. Marked deficiency of minor nutrient elements, especially boron
and zinc, as shown by leaf symptoms in crop plants.
9. Toxic amounts of aluminum (and sometimes iron) and of
10. Low content of sulfur (as sulfate).
1. Absence of montmorins and paucity of hydrous mica.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 41
2. Low content of kaolins.
3. High contents of gibbsite, hematite, goethite, or other hydrous
aluminum and iron oxide minerals.
4. High content of titanic minerals, notably anastase.
5. High content of dense residual soil minerals that are partic-
ularly resistant to weathering, notably zircon, rutile, and corundum.
1. P. de T. Alvim, "Soil as an Ecological Factor in the Development of
Vegetation in the Central Plateau of Brazil," Proc. Sixth Internat. Grassl.
Congr., 1952 (Penn State College), pp. 610-617; see also Spanish transl. in
Turrialba, II (1952), 153-160.
2. A. B. Fagundes, "Soil Fertility Relationships in the Region of Sete Lagoas,
Brazil," Proc. Sixth Internat. Grassl. Congr., 1952, pp. 1473-1478.
3. C. Dondoli and J. Torres, "Estudio Geoagron6mico de la Regi6n Oriental
de la Meseta Central," Min. Agric. Indus. (San Jos6, Costa Rica, 1954),
4. F. B. Sands, "A Study of the Fertility Status of the Cocoa and Coffee
Soils of Costa Rica" (unpublished thesis, I.I.c.A., Turrialba, Costa Rica, 1954),
pp. 1-153, Appendix i-xliii.
5. V. M. P6rez, "Algunas Deficiencias Minerales del Cafeto en Costa Rica"
(STICA, Inf. 2, 1957), pp. 1-27.
6. L. W. Miiller, "Mineral Deficiencies in Coffee in Costa Rica" (unpub-
lished typescript, 1956), pp. 1-33.
7. V. M. P6rez and R. Cheverri, "Algunos Aspectos del Abonomiento del
Cafeto con Boro y Calcio en las Condiciones de la Meseta Central de Costa
Rica" (STICA, Inf. 1, 1956).
8. D. Boynton and A. L. Erickson, "A Response of Seedling Cacao Trees
under Nursery Conditions to Magnesium and Calcium" (Fifth Meeting, Inter-
American Technical Cacao Committee, 1954, I.I.c.A., Turrialba, Costa Rica).
9. M. E. Peralta, "Analisis de Algunos Minerales in Hojas de Caf6 con y
sin Afecci6n de 'Caf6 Macho'" (unpublished thesis, I.I.c.A., Turrialba, Costa
Rica, 1952), pp. 1-66.
10. E. Bornemisza, "El Azufre en la Agricultura," Suelo Tico, VII (1953-
11. H. A. Meyerhoff, Geology of Puerto Rico (Univ. of P. R., 1933).
12. C. A. Kaye, "Some Paleosols of Puerto Rico, Soil Sci., LXXI (1951),
13. R. C. Roberts et al., Soil Survey of Puerto Rico (1942).
14. J. A. Bonnet, "The Nature of Laterization as Revealed by Chemical,
Physical and Mineralogical Studies of a Lateritic Soil Profile from Puerto
Rico," Soil Sci., LVIII (1939), 25-40.
15. H. Cibes and G. Samuels, "Mineral Deficiency Symptoms Displayed by
Coffee Trees Grown under Controlled Conditions" (Techn. Paper 14, Agr.
Expt. Sta., Univ. of P. R., 1955), pp. 1-21.
16. J. G. Arrillaga, L. A. G6mez, and J. O. Carrero, "Estudios sobre la
Nutrici6n del Cafeto," Inf. Bienal., 1940-41, 1941-42 (Univ. of P. R.), pp.
42 The Caribbean
17. J. A. Bonnet, personal communication.
18. J. A. Bonnet and S. M. Gaztambide, Ann. Prog. Rept. Inst. Trop. Agric.,
P. R. (1944-1945), pp. 59-63.
19. C. D. Jeffries, J. A. Bonnet, and F. Abrufia, "Mineral Characteristics
of Some Soils of Puerto Rico," Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc., XVI (1952), 310-311;
also in Jour. Agric. Univ. P. R. XXXVI (1953), 114-139.
20. S. C. Chang and M. L. Jackson, "Fractionation of Soil Phosphorus,"
Soil Sci., LXXXIV (1957), 133-144.
21. R. M. Smith and C. F. Cernuda, "Some Characteristics of the Macro-
structure of Tropical Soils in Puerto Rico," Soil Sci., LXXIII (1952), 183-192.
22. J. A. Bonnet and M. A. Lugo-L6pez, "The Rate of Infiltration of Lateritic
Soils," Jour. Agric. Univ. P. R., XXXVI (1952), 161-166.
23. M. A. Lugo-L6pez, "Moisture Relationships of Puerto Rico Soils" (Techn.
Paper 9, Agric. Expt. Sta., Univ. P. R., 1953), pp. 1-97.
24. F. Abrufia and R. M. Smith, "Clay Mineral Types and Related Soil
Properties in Puerto Rico," Soil Sci., LXXV (1953), 411-420.
25. R. C. Tincknell and L. Bascones, "Ensayos Preliminares para la Utiliza-
ci6n de los Suelos de la Serie Guataparo" (unpublished paper 8a, Cony. Ann.
de la Asoc. Venz. para el Avance de la Ciencia, Caracas, 1958).
26. G. D. Sherman, "Factors Influencing the Development of Lateritic and
Laterite Soils in the Hawaiian Islands," Pacific Science, III (1949), 307-314.
27. "Soils of the Hawaiian Islands," Soils and Men (U.S.D.A. Yearbook of
Agriculture, 1938; Washington: G.P.O., 1938), pp. 1151-1154.
28. Computed from C. W. Thornthwaite, "An Approach toward a Rational
Classification of Climate," Geog. Rev., XXXVIII (1948), 55-94.
29. T. Tenada, "Certain Properties of the Inorganic Colloidal Fraction of
Hawaiian Soils," Journ. Soil. Sci., II (1951), 83-96.
30. T. Tamura, M. L. Jackson, and G. D. Sherman, "Mineral Content of
Low Humic, Humic and Hydrol-Humic Latosols of Hawaii," Soil Sci. Soc.
Amer. Proc., XVII (1953), 343-351.
31. T. Tamura, M. L. Jackson, and G. D. Sherman, "Mineral Content of a
Latosolic Brown Forest Soil and a Humic Ferruginous Latosol of Hawaii,"
ibid., XIX (1955), 435-439.
32. G. D. Sherman, "The Genesis and Morphology of Hawaiian Ferruginous
Laterite Crusts," Pacific Science, IV (1950), 315-322.
33. M. L. Jackson and G. D. Sherman, "Chemical Weathering of Minerals
in Soils," Adv. in Agron., V (1953), 219-318.
34. N. T. Coleman and M. L. Jackson, "Mineral Composition of the Clay
Fraction of Several Coastal Plain Soils of Southeastern United States," Soil Sci.
Soc. Amer. Proc., X (1945), 381-391; "... of Several Coastal Plain, Piedmont
and Mountain Soils of North Carolina," ibid., XIV (1949), 81-83.
35. J. B. Harrison, "Extraneous Minerals in the Coral Limestone of Barba-
dos," Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc., LXXV (London, 1920), 158-172.
36. C. R. van der Merwe and H. Heystek, "Clay Minerals of South African
Soil Groups," Soil Sci., LXXIV (1952), 383-401.
37. C. G. Stephens, "Comparative Morphology and Genetic Relationships
of Certain Australian, North American and European Soils," Journ. Soil Sci.,
I (1950), 123-149.
38. V. A. Zans, Bauxite Resources of Jamaica and their Development (Ja-
maica: Geol. Surv. Dept., 1954), pp. 307-332.
39. C. W. Hewitt (Dept. Agric., Jamaica), personal communication.
40. W. L. Garman, "Potassium Release Characteristics of Several Soils from
Ohio and New York," Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc., XXI (1957), 52-58.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 43
41. E. R. Graham, "Soil Mineralogy as an Index to the Trace-Element Status
of Some Australian Soils," Soil Sci., LXXV (1953), 333-343.
42. S. C. Chang and M. L. Jackson, "Soil Phosphorus Fractions in Some
Representative Soils," Journ. Soil Sci., IX (1958), 109-119.
43. J. P. Leaver and E. W. Russell, "Reaction between Phosphate and Phos-
phate-Fixing Soils," ibid., VIII (1957), 113-126.
44. G. C. Russell and P. F. Low, "Reaction of Phosphate with Kaolinite in
Dilute Solution," Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc., XVIII (1954), 22-25.
45. M. Fieldes, L. D. Swindale, and J. P. Richardson, "Relation of Colloidal
Hydrous Oxides to the High Cation-Exchange Capacity of Some Tropical Soils
of the Cook Islands," Soil Sci., LXXIV (1952), 197-205.
46. G. N. Hoffer and J. F. Trost, "Accumulation of Iron and Aluminum
Compounds and Its Probable Relationship to Root-Rots," Journ. Amer. Soc.
Agron., XV (1923), 323-331.
47. E. M. Chenery, private communication. Coffee apparently is not one
of the Rubiaceous aluminum plants.
48. E. M. Chenery, "A Preliminary Study of Aluminum and the Tea Bush,"
Plant and Soil, VI (1955), 174-200.
49. C. E. Kellogg and F. D. Davol, An Exploratory Study of Soil Groups in
the Belgian Congo, "Sci. Ser." (Publicn. I.N.E.A.C., No. 46, 1949), p. 15.
50. J. S. Joffe, "Green Manuring Viewed by a Pedologist," Adv. in Agron.,
VII (1955), 141-187.
51. Certain tree species have acquired a reputation for possessing vigorous
and deep growing root systems and to have the capacity for accumulating
potash from the subsoil. Other useful tree species that usually present little
difficulty in establishment are the so-called "quicksticks" which root easily
from pieces thrust into the ground. Among these are species of Erythrina and
Gliricidia which are widespread in the humid tropics.
52. E. R. Graham, "Primary Minerals of the Silt Fraction as Contributors
to the Exchangeable-Base Level of Acid Soils," Soil Sci., XLIX (1940),
Erich O. Kraemer: AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION
AND COMMERCE IN THE CARIBBEAN
TO EXPLAIN the nature and scope of this paper, three things
should be mentioned at the outset. In the first place, emphasis will
be put on long-term trends, comparing developments in the last
few years with conditions in the immediate prewar years. In the
second place, the area covered will be somewhat smaller than the
Caribbean region as defined for purposes of this Conference. In
the third place, the discussion will be limited to only a few major
aspects of the topic.
The area covered will include Mexico, the Central American
isthmus, a restricted number of Caribbean islands, and the northern
part of South America. That part of the Caribbean islands which for
lack of comparable statistical data and other reasons will be omitted
consists of Puerto Rico as well as the British, French, and Nether-
lands West Indies.
I. Agricultural Policies
This section of our discussion is designed to describe briefly the
agricultural policies followed by the different countries of the region.
Although these policies varied somewhat from subarea to subarea,
they had a lot in common from the standpoint of both the objectives
pursued and the methods by which these objectives were to be
Some countries created comprehensive agricultural development
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 43
plans, either separately or as part of a broad program for economic
development. Examples of such comprehensive planning are:
1. The six-year agricultural development plan for Mexico (1953-
58), presented by the Cortines administration as part of its national
2. A long-term agricultural development plan for Guatemala, sub-
mitted in 1951 as part of the work of the Mission of the International
Bank for Reconstruction and Development;
3. A five-year agricultural development program for Nicaragua,
presented in 1952 by a Mission of the International Bank for Recon-
struction and Development;
4. The five-year program for the agricultural development of
Haiti, adopted in 1951;
5. The five-year agricultural development plan for Colombia
(1951-55), formulated as part of the work of the Currie Mission.
Some of the broad objectives pursued by the governments of the
region were the expansion of agricultural production; the attainment
of self-sufficiency in regard to the largest possible number of prod-
ucts; the protection of domestic farm prices and income; the assist-
ance to small farmers in the interest of social stability; the attain-
ment of higher levels of consumption; the expansion of agricultural
exports to help pay for capital goods needed in economic develop-
ment; the diversification of agricultural production; the improvement
of farming techniques; and the betterment of the level of rural living.
F he devices used to attain these objectives may conveniently Be
divided into the control of the domestic market, the regulation of
foreign trade, the provision of financial assistance, and other meas-
ures. They consisted of a variety of tools in each one of these fields.
Altogether they made up a strong system of agricultural protection-
ism and public intervention.
n the case of domestic market control the countries of the region
applied such devices as the regulation of prices and the establish-
ment of governmental trading monopolies. In the case of foreign
trade regulation they used such methods as tariff and import fees,
quantitative controls, governmental trading monopolies, export sub-
sidies, export taxes, and bilateral trade and payments agreements.
Mexico is a good example of the type of policies that were adopted
in this respect. Here the government, acting through its agency
called Compafila Exportadora e Importadora Mexicana, S.A.
(CEIMSA), engaged in all kinds of marketing operations for the
46 The Caribbean
purpose of stabilizing prices and stimulating the production of cer-
tain commodities. These operations included buying and selling in
local markets, importing and exporting, transporting as well as stor-
ing. Among the products that received price support were wheat,
corn, beans, and eggs.
In regulating foreign trade the Mexican government intervened
in regard to imports as well as exports. On the import side it tried
to reduce shipments by means of high tariff rates and a rigorous
licensing system. On the export side it attempted to increase sales
by means of extension of credit, reduction in export taxes, and barter
The list of agricultural products requiring import permits com-
prised wheat, fats and oils, fresh fruits, powdered milk, wool, hides
and skins, and baby chicks. The imports of certain basic foods,
including corn, wheat, beans, dry milk solids, lard, and fresh eggs,
were handled solely through CEIMSA.
Another interesting example is Cuba. In this case elaborate sys-
tems of control were established and applied to several commodities,
including sugar, tobacco, rice, and corn. In the sugar industry the
government, acting through the Cuban Sugar Stabilization Institute,
determined the size of the crop to be harvested, allocated production
quotas among the sugar mills and cane growers, and made alloca-
tions to the different export quotas. In the tobacco industry the
government engaged in marketing operations designed to promote
sales, to support prices, and to regulate the size of the crop, using
as its main agencies the Tobacco Defense Commission and the
Tobacco Stabilization Fund. In the rice industry the Rice Stabiliza-
tion Administration set import quotas, fixed minimum prices, and
stimulated the volume of domestic production. Finally, in the field
of corn production the Corn Stabilization Administration engaged
in marketing operations designed to solve the problem of corn
Apart from this, Cuba used its tariff system, various types of export
control, and a number of bilateral commercial agreements to pro-
tect and to raise the output of its own farm production as well as
to stabilize farm prices.
So far as the provision of financial assistance is concerned, the
measures adopted by the different countries of the region consisted
of programs designed to improve the facilities for both long-term and
short-term credit. In a few cases special efforts were made to assist
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 47
small farmers through a system of supervised agricultural credit.
Among the other measures applied for the purpose of developing
the agricultural resources of the region, mention should be made
of aids designed to improve transportation conditions, the granting
of tax concessions, the adoption of development projects dealing
with land reclamation and resettlement, programs to improve general
and vocational education, efforts to develop an extension service, the
promotion of agricultural research, and the participation in inter-
national technical cooperation.
With this rapidly and broadly sketched policy picture in mind, we
shall now take a look at recent trends in overall agricultural output.
II. Growth of Production
Here we shall discuss overall production in the different countries
of the region both in absolute terms and in terms of per capital out-
put. In each case we shall use the prewar years 1935-39 as the base
period and compare the level of average production of this period
with that of the crop year 1956-57. The picture that results from
these comparisons in the case of general overall agricultural produc-
tion is as follows.
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN GENERAL
Mexico. The volume of overall agricultural production rose two
and a half times. More than 50 per cent of this gain was achieved
by the end of the crop year 1949-50. Beginning with 1945 the sector
of export crops assumed a higher rate of growth than that producing
mainly for domestic consumption. As a result, the former sector now
represents a larger proportion of the total agricultural output of the
country. (See Table 1.)
Central American Isthmus. Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and El Salva-
dor experienced the largest gains in production, their 1956-57 indices
being 365, 233, and 198 respectively. The index of Guatemala rose
to 168 and that of Panama to 192.
Caribbean Islands. Cuba shows the greatest growth in this sub-
group with an increase of 97 per cent and Haiti the smallest
expansion with a gain of only 24 per cent. The latter country had
the smallest increase not only for this subgroup but also in regard
to all the other countries listed.
CARIBBEAN AREA,* INDICES
OF VOLUME OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION FOR
Country 1935-39 1949-50 1950-51 1951-52 1954-55 1955-56 1956-57
Mexico 100 179 186 214 236 258 250
Costa Rica 100 161 156 168 261 208 233
El Salvador 100 127 129 137 174 180 198
Guatemala 100 122 117 119 150 158 168
Honduras 100 146 153 148 147 158 147
Nicaragua 100 166 163 190 346 334 365
Panama 100 149 157 142 207 189 192
Cuba 100 191 196 242 165 172 197
Dominican Republic 100 126 123 136 141 150 169
Haiti 100 131 129 144 129 150 124
Northern South America
Colombia 100 163 143 162 171 180 181
Venezuela 100 112 129 143 177 181 190
Source: Based on indices published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service.
Excluding Puerto Rico and the British, French, and Netherlands West Indies.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 49
Northern Part of South America. Here Venezuela shows a gain
of 90 per cent and Colombia an increase of 81 per cent, as compared
with the prewar level of production. Venezuela experienced sizeable
increases in the production of several crops, including rice, cotton,
corn, sugar cane, and meat. In Colombia the highest degree of
expansion occurred in regard to export crops, including coffee,
bananas, and tobacco. The increase in the production of farm
products primarily used for domestic consumption was considerably
PER CAPITAL PRODUCTION
As we examine these data for the region, we shall distinguish
between three different groups of countries, namely: (a) those with
per capital production below prewar level; (b) those showing in-
creases of less than 30 per cent; and (c) those showing increases of
30 per cent and more. (See Table 2.)
The first group includes Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
Here production increases did not keep pace with population
growth. In the case of Honduras this refers to overall production
as well as the output of food products only.
The second group, showing increases of less than 30 per cent,
comprises Guatemala, Panama, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, and
Haiti. In none of these countries did the production of foodstuffs
turn out to be larger than the average recorded for all types of
The third group, showing increases of 30 per cent and more, in-
cludes Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Also here
the gains in foodstuffs were notably smaller than those for all
agricultural products, except in the case of Costa Rica.
Evidently in those countries in which the output of food products
fell notably behind that of all agricultural products, more emphasis
was placed on the expansion of agricultural raw materials.
III. Trends in Foreign Trade
After looking at the overall output of farm products we shall now
briefly examine some aspects of the region's external trade. Here
we shall be concerned mainly with such matters as the volume and
composition of the flow of agricultural commodities, the geographic
distribution of trade, and efforts at establishing a common market.
CARIBBEAN AREA*, INDICES OF PER CAPITAL AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION FOR SPECIFIED YEARS
Total Food Only
Country 1935-39 1949-50 1954-55 1955-56 1956-57 1954-55 1955-56 1956-57
Mexico 100 129 148 157 148 125 128 131
Costa Rica 100 122 167 127 138 166 127 137
El Salvador 100 116 135 133 144 110 95 105
Guatemala 100 99 104 107 111 98 100 105
Honduras 100 112 88 91 83 87 91 82
Nicaragua 100 151 248 233 248 140 153 158
Panama 100 98 137 122 122 135 122 122
Cuba 100 150 113 115 129 111 114 129
Dominican Republic 100 89 94 96 95 92 99 108
Haiti 100 109 107 120 100 107 120 100
Northern South America
Colombia 100 130 118 122 119 114 118 117
Venezuela 100 74 103 106 106 106 106 106
Source: Based on indices published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service.
Excluding Puerto Rico and the British, French and Netherlands West Indies.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 61
VOLUME AND COMPOSITION OF AGRICULTURAL TRADE
In determining trends in this respect it will be necessary to look
at changes in the volume of exports and imports and to measure the
shifts in the role of the major groups of the different commodities.
Table 3 throws some light on these aspects of the question with
reference to Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela. This table
contains data for agricultural exports and imports by major sub-
groups of foodstuffs and nonfoodstuffs and makes possible com-
parisons between the trade movements of the immediate prewar
years and those of 1953.
Taking the four countries together the following trade pattern
developed. Total volume of trade increased about 85 per cent
between prewar and 1953. Exports almost doubled, while imports
more than doubled. Net agricultural exports increased by 38 per
cent between 1934-38 and 1949-51, and by about 20 per cent between
1949-51 and 1953. In the sphere of foodstuffs imports showed a
consistent increase, whereas exports increased between prewar and
1949-51, but declined subsequently. In the sphere of nonfoodstuffs
imports rose by about 86 per cent and exports by about 70 per cent.
Looking at each one of these countries separately the following
similarities and differences in their trade patterns should be noted.
Mexico. This country was a net exporter throughout the period
from prewar to 1953. It not only maintained this position, but
strengthened it considerably after 1946. In terms of volume, net
agricultural exports rose almost two times.
In the field of nonfoodstuffs exports increased three times, while
imports expanded by 38 per cent. It was the substantial increase
in the exports of these nonfoodstuffs, and particularly those of cotton
and coffee, that contributed mainly to the growth of net agricultural
exports. In the field of foodstuffs imports rose almost seven times,
while exports declined.
Cuba. Also this country experienced an improvement of its posi-
tion as a net exporter of farm products. In the sphere of foodstuffs
the volumes of both exports and imports rose. Exports increased by
93 per cent, influenced mainly by the rise in the shipments of sugar
products, while imports went up by 81 per cent. In the field of non-
foodstuffs exports increased while imports decreased. Exports of
nonfoodstuffs, which were influenced mainly by tobacco products,
increased about 38 per cent over prewar 1934-38.
lS PHYSICAL VOLUME OF AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS AND IMPORTS FOR SPECIFIED COUNTRIES OF THE
CARIBBEAN, 1934-38, 1949-51, AND 1953
(millions of dollars at constant 1950 prices)
Country and Exports Imports Net Balance*
Commodity Group 1934-38 1949-51 1953 1934-38 1949-51 1953 1934-38 1949-51 1953
22.7 23.8 18.4 9.1 43.6 71.8 13.6 -19.8~ -53.4
22.7 23.8 18.4 9.1 43.6 71.8 13.6 -19.8t -53.4
67.1 150.0 203.8 10.8 7.8 14.9 56.3 142.3 188.9
89.8 173.8 222.2 19.9 51.4 86.7 69.9 122.4 135.5
284.3 561.6 548.5 68.9 125.2 117.7 215.4 436.4 430.8
38.1 42.1 52.4 14.4 15.7 17.2 23.6 26.5 35.2
322.4 603.7 600.9 83.3 140.9 134.9 239.0 462.9 466.0
23.1 -13.6 -7.3 -9.6
20.9 286.6 317.8 438.5
306.3 351.1 472.8 33.3 40.5 44.0 273.0 310.5 428.8
12.5 11.0 12.9 16.3 98.1 91.5 -3.8 -87.1 -78.5
43.8 18.3 41.1 4.8f 12.9 17.4 39.1 5.4 23.7
56.3 29.3 54.1 21.1f 111.1 108.9 35.2 -81.8 -54.8
Foodstuffs 331.3 607.1 593.2 119.7 284.8 304.0 211.6 322.2 289.3
Nonfoodstuffs 443.5 550.8 756.7 37.9 59.0 70.4 405.6 492.0 686.3
Total 774.8 1157.9 1350.0 157.6 344.0 374.5 617.1 813.9 975.5
Source: Compiled from data published by the Economic Commission for Latin America.
*Provisional f1938 tMinus quantities are net imports.
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 53
Colombia. This country improved its position as a net exporter
of farm products, but to a smaller degree than Mexico and Cuba.
In the sphere of nonfoodstuffs both exports and imports went up.
Exports rose by 56 per cent, while imports expanded more than 2.7
times. Measured in volume, coffee shipments, the main element in
the exports of nonfoodtstuffs, increased about 35 per cent between
1935-39 and 1950-54.
The country was a net importer of foodstuffs in the prewar years
and remained in this category in the postwar period, although its
net imports were smaller in 1953 than those before the war.
Venezuela. Prior to World War II Venezuela was a net exporter
of farm products. In the postwar period, however, it became a sub-
stantial net importer of such products. Increases in the imports of
foodstuffs together with a rise in the imports of nonfoodstuffs were
mainly responsible for this change. Imports of foodstuffs increased
more than 5.6 times, while those of nonfoodstuffs went up 3.6 times.
Exports of nonfoodstuffs declined between prewar and 1949-51, but
returned almost to prewar volume by 1953.
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF AGRICULTURAL TRADE
In this respect it should be noted that the agricultural trade
relations between the region and the United States were of great
importance for both sides. On one hand, the United States was the
principal market for the region's agricultural exports. On the other
hand, the region received from the United States a substantial
amount of its agricultural imports.
To illustrate these points we shall briefly describe the position of
the United States in its agricultural trade with Mexico, Cuba,
Guatemala, Colombia, and Venezuela.
Mexico (1955). U. S. market as an outlet: more than 90 per cent
of all exports of cattle, henequen, winter vegetables, fresh fruits
(except oranges), molasses, vanilla, and chicle; 70 to 89 per cent
of exports of cotton, foodstuffs, and beef.
U. S. market as a source of supplies: about 80 per cent of all
agricultural imports; practically all the food products; more than 90
per cent of the imports of grains, breeding cattle, animal fats, fresh
fruits, fresh eggs, tobacco, hops, and untanned hides and skins; 70
to 89 per cent of powdered milk, dried eggs, and dried fruits.
Cuba (1956). U. S. market as an outlet: about 63 per cent of all
54 The Caribbean
U. S. market as a source of supplies: about 85 per cent of all
agricultural imports (as against about 50 per cent in 1935-39); more
than 90 per cent of the imports of rice, lard, wheat, wheat flour,
cured pork, and eggs; 70 to 89 per cent of the imports of beans, peas,
and evaporated milk.
Guatemala (1954). U. S. market as an outlet: 78 per cent of
coffee; 53 per cent of bananas; 78 per cent of essential oils; 93 per
cent of chicle; 100 per cent of abaca.
U. S. market as a source of supplies: 69 per cent of wheat flour;
87 per cent of lard; 65 per cent of dried milk; practically all leaf
tobacco, industrial tallow, and wheat.
Colombia (1956). U. S. market as an outlet: about 80 per cent of
U. S. market as a source of supplies: about 75 per cent of all farm
Venezuela (1956). U. S. market as an outlet: principal market for
coffee and cacao exports.
U. S. market as a source of supplies: about 60 per cent of all
agricultural imports; more than 90 per cent of the imports of lard,
fruit pulp, canned fruit, foodstuffs, and cigarettes; 70 to 89 per cent
of the imports of barley (malt), dietary food, eggs, dried fruit, fruit
juice, and leaf tobacco; 50 to 69 per cent of the imports of canned
foods, flour, preserved milk, oats, wheat, and cotton.
The special surplus disposal operations carried out since 1954 by
the United States government under Public Law 480 also affected
the Caribbean region. (See Table 4.) Agreements were made
under Title I of this law with Colombia and Mexico, involving ship-
ments totaling 190,000 tons of bread grains, 551,000 tons of feed
grains, 17,000 tons of cotton, 16,000 tons of fats and oils, 200,000
tons of tobacco, and 500,000 tons of dairy products. In addition,
donations were sent under Title II to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti,
Honduras, and Mexico. These donations consisted of a total of 2,000
tons of bread grains, 100,000 tons of feed grains, 7,000 tons of rice,
and 110,000 tons of dairy products.
Title I of this law authorizes the United States Commodity Credit
Corporation to finance sales of surplus agricultural commodities for
foreign currencies. Title II of the Act makes available agricultural
commodities to meet famine conditions or other emergency relief
needs of friendly peoples.
U.S. SURPLUS DISPOSAL OPERATIONS IN LATIN AMERICA UNDER PUBLIC LAW 480
FROM BEGINNING OF PROGRAM THROUGH JUNE 30, 1958
Bread Feed Fats and Dairy
Country Grains Grains Cotton Oils Rice Tobacco Products
Argentina -._ ..- 100,000
Bolivia 70,000 10,000 -- --
Brazil 2,300,000* 10,000 -- 23,000 ... 55 3,200
Chile 235,000 10,000 40,000 200
Colombia 190,000 51,000 17,000 16,000 200 500
Ecuador 50,000 ----- --- 13,000 -. 365
Mexico 500,000 -
Paraguay 30,000 -- -_ 2,000 ....- 420
Peru 235,000 --- --4,000 30,000 --- 500
Sub-Total 3,110,000 561,000 27,000 198,000 40,000 820 4,620
Bolivia 85,000 ...- 3,000 3,000 13,000 1,000
Costa Rica ... 1,000- -- -----
Guatemala 35,000 ------
Haiti 2,000 60,000 --- --- 7,000 110
Honduras ._ 1,000-- ----- ----
Mexico 3,000 ----
Peru 40,000 75,000 ------ ------ -- ----.-- -- 3,500
Sub-Total 127,000 175,000 3,000 3,000 20,000 ..--. 4,610
Grand Total 3,237,000 736,000 30,000 201,000 60,000 820 9,230
Source: Data compiled by Food and Agriculture Organization.
*To be shipped over a 3-year period starting in 1957.
56 The Caribbean
ECONOMIC INTEGRATION OF THE CENTRAL AMERICAN ISTHMUS
The appearance of a program designed to bring about a common
market for the area of the Central American isthmus is another
important event that deserves attention in this connection. Here
we have an attempt at influencing economic development that is
quite different from the system of protectionism described in the
first section of this discussion.
While it is not feasible to describe this event in greater detail
within the framework of this discussion, we shall try to give at
least a rough idea of its nature and scope.
A resolution adopted during the Fourth Session Period held by
the Economic Commission for Latin America in 1951 forms the basis
of this program. This resolution, presented by the delegations of
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua,
expressed the interests of their governments in a program designed
"to develop in their respective countries agricultural and industrial
production and the transportation systems in such a way as to pro-
mote the integration of their economies and the formation of a wider
market through the exchange of their products, the coordination of
their development plans, and the creation of agencies functioning
in the interest of either all or some of the countries involved."
The mechanism of this program consists of three parts: (a) the
so-called Committee of the Ministers of Economy on Economic
Cooperation in Central America, (b) the secretariat furnished by
the Economic Commission for Latin America, and (c) various sub-
committees established for the purpose of specific studies.
Thus far the Committee of the Ministers of Economy has held five
sessions, of which the first one occurred in 1952 and the latest one
in the second quarter of 1958.
Throughout its existence, the Committee devoted a good deal of
attention to agricultural development problems. This is evident
from the agenda of the first meeting in Honduras in 1952 and the
later sessions. This is also evident from the various agricultural
studies undertaken by the staff of the Economic Committee for Latin
America in its function as the secretariat for the Committee.
The 1952 conclusions of the Committee included the following
interesting observations on agricultural development problems.
Cattle and dairy products. Although there are large numbers of
cattle in the area, milk production has to be supplemented by
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 57
imports, and meat and milk consumption is low. Productivity per
animal is low because the areas used for rearing cattle are not
always the most suitable, and also because of the unhealthy con-
dition of the herds, poor feed, lack of pastures for fattening close
to the slaughterhouses, elementary milking and slaughtering with low
yields per animal, waste of by-products, and inferior hide quality.
Vegetable oils and fats. The production of oil seeds has increased,
but is still insufficient, while crushing plants are inadequate and
of low productivity.
Cotton and textile industry. Central America has recently become
a net exporter of cotton, but it is necessary to improve the quality
and to meet the need for long fibers not yet produced. Cotton is
not always grown in the most suitable areas. The textile industry
itself needs modernizing.
In regard to the various types of agricultural studies undertaken
by the Economic Committee for Latin America for the benefit of
the Committee of the Ministers of Economy, the following ones
deserve special attention.
1. Studies dealing with the promotion of production and the
industrial exploitation of agricultural and livestock products. One
of these is an economic analysis concerned with the improvement
of the quality of products and their distribution and trade throughout
Central America. Another represents a survey of the technical
problems related to efforts to bring about an increase in the produc-
tion of high-quality fibers as well as an examination of the Central
American cotton economy from the angle of world outlets and the
possibilities of bringing about substantial reductions in present costs
2. A study of the future demand for certain of the main export
commodities and their possible supply, with a view to aiding govern-
ments in the formulations of a suitable foreign trade policy.
Attention should also be drawn to the drafting of a multilateral
free trade and economic integration treaty. The draft of such a
treaty was adopted by the Fourth Session of the Committee, held
in Guatemala in 1957. In the spring of 1958 consultations were held
between representatives of the Ministers of Economy for the purpose
of reaching an agreement on the schedule attached to the instrument
and the attainment of the ratification of the treaty by the respective
governments at an early date.
58 The Caribbean
Briefly stated, agricultural production and commerce, as it devel-
oped in the Caribbean in the period under review, showed the
following major characteristics and trends.
1. The different countries of the region showed a high degree of
uniformity in their policies concerning agricultural production and
trade. This uniformity applied to both objectives pursued and the
methods by which they attempted to attain these objectives.
2. Foremost among the objectives pursued were the diversification
of agricultural production, the improvement of farming techniques,
the raising of levels of living, and the attainment of high degree of
3. The methods by which the different countries of the region
tried to attain their objectives consisted primarily of a system of
4. The countries of the Central American isthmus paid increasing
attention to the question of developing a common market for their
territories as another important device by which economic condi-
tions, including those of agricultural production and trade, might be
improved in a substantial manner.
5. Measured in general or absolute terms, all countries included
in this discussion succeeded in the expansion of their overall agri-
cultural output. The degree of this expansion differed a good deal
from country to country.
6. In some countries of the region the expansion of farm output
did not keep pace with population growth.
7. In the field of foodstuffs various countries experienced a need
to increase their imports and reduce their exports in order to cope
with a rising domestic demand resulting from population growth
and improvements in real income.
As to the years immediately ahead the prospects are that agri-
cultural production will continue to expand, considering the general
drive for a greater degree of self-sufficiency in farm products,
advancements in the technique of production and the availability
of a considerable amount of undeveloped resources.
Monroe Bush: FORESTRY'S CHALLENGE
IN THE CARIBBEAN AREA
FORESTRY, concerned as it is with earth's green skin, is becom-
ing a vital defensive tool in man's approaching struggle for biological
survival. With the world's populations exploding like so many fire-
crackers, forestry is increasingly seen for what it is: a prime, strong
defense against the destitution of erosion, of water shortage, of soil
failure, of raw materials depletion, and of agricultural insufficiency.
The pertinence of this is underscored in a prophetic observation
from that distinguished resource specialist, Fairfield Osborn:
Today the ruined cities of the old Mayan Empire, in the Peten
district of Guatemala... give mute evidence that they were centers
of a large and flourishing population. [And Osborn adds], the long
trail of scientific inquiry lends support to the theory that the old
Mayan Empire came to its end principally because its people em-
ployed faulty systems of agriculture and denuded their land of
This is not to argue a fanatic's case for forestry as the universal
panacea, but it is to recognize in forestry a solution for many prob-
lems that either could not be solved otherwise or could be solved
only by sacrifices which the proper role of forestry does not demand.
This is true in Mississippi and it is true in Sweden; it is true in
Florida and no less so in Canada. It is especially true in the
You recall that Dostoevski, that master Russian novelist, conceived
*Notes to this chapter are on page 69.
60 The Caribbean
his plots and his characters on the assumption that the darker the
depths of a man's sin, the more brilliant by contrast was the light
of the righteousness to which that man could aspire. Precisely the
same thing can be said of forestry. Wherever the green glory of
dense timber has been violated, and the forests exhausted by ignor-
ance or avarice-there the opportunities for the renewal of the
woodlands are greatest.
Apart from the very oldest regions of man's habitation on earth,
I suggest that no other region stands to gain as much from the
renaissance of its tree cover as the Caribbean. Timber will not put
three square meals on every dinner plate, or an automobile in
every garage, but timber can do more than you might suspect to
attain each of these goals, for both agriculturally and economically
the renewal of the forests can bring great impetus to the health of
the Caribbean society. This is my thesis. I cannot prove it, but I
shall argue for it.
Let us begin, then, by looking at the geographical factors which
influence Caribbean forestry; for here, as elsewhere, the forests are
the children of their geography. Because of its proximity to the
Equator and to warm sea, the Caribbean is a hot region. And as
the result of this surrounding water, it is also humid. The land
itself is fragmented by both sea and mountains into many parcels,
which hinders large-scale land management and discourages easy
commerce through the area.
Because of its burgeoning populations, its forests are in many
places subject to an unrelenting pressure to utilize their lands for
agricultural purposes. Even in such a heavily forested nation as
Colombia, for instance, it is estimated that in a single day of the
rainy season the Magdalena River alone dumps the topsoil from
500 to 800 acres into the Caribbean.2
As a consequence of such socio-geographic factors, as well as of
the widespread shortages of capital, there are often not the ready
means to obtain complete forest utilization on a sustained-yield
basis, even if there were the will to do so.
These statements have their exceptions, of course. There are
mountain regions in the Caribbean which are pleasantly temperate
the year around. There are dry dust bowls. There are oases free
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 01
of population pressure. There are places where there is capital
sufficient for almost any reasonable undertaking.
But the broad characteristics are irrefutable and combine in
influencing tree culture with the wind, temperature, and rainfall
patterns-especially with rainfall patterns, for this is the critical
factor in forest growth. The winds, with the principal exception
of parts of Mexico, bring warmth and moisture from the sea; and
the land-forms, rising everywhere in mountainous folds, act to
catch this warm moisture as it cools in climbing toward the peaks
and ridges. Often, too, these ridges prevent it moving westward
to areas on the leeward side of mountains which, as a result, are
sometimes left almost as dry as a desert.
All of which is to conclude that while the Caribbean can never
become, in respect to tree cover, a second Pacific Northwest, it does
possess modest-though in a local context, substantial-geographical
opportunities for the development of a timber resource which are
by no means realized today, nor for that matter in early prospect.
In discussing the Caribbean we are dealing with four colonial
sections, three independent West Indian republics, and eight main-
land republics. The colonial sections comprise countless islands,
many of which are indistinguishable in respect to their natural
resources-or better said, lack of them.
It is manifestly impossible and unnecessary in a single brief paper
to examine the forest conditions in each of these territories, whether
independent or colonial. Such a r6sume would degenerate to a
mere recitation of statistics. The same is true if we were to attempt
to total the generally unreliable figures for annual increment of, and
drain upon, these forests, for the situation varies so much from
nation to nation within a shifting context of economic, geographic,
and social factors that the end figures would be ponderously baffling.
Instead of these tedious studies, let us first consider the forest
types that are found throughout the region. Then let us look to the
uses to which these forest types could be put. And in the third
instance, let us discuss the problems to be wrestled with to achieve
this maximum potential use.
Now what of these forest types? Despite the risk of oversimplifi-
cation, we can say that there are three very broad groupings of the
62 The Caribbean
forest cover. By all means the largest is the wet forest, in which
subdivisions range from the moist forest to the actual rain forest.
The wet forest covers roughly 60 to 75 per cent of the forested land
and contains virtually all of the choice hardwoods, as well as many
softer woods which ultimately will be pulped and chipped
The second general forest type is the pine or coniferous forest,
found at higher elevations as a rule, and by all odds the prime
timber source for the region. What can be done with second growth
in the vast cutover areas of this forest type is strikingly evident in
the highlands of the Dominican Republic, where the national pine
forest alone embraces 250,000 lush, productive acres; and success
here seems due primarily to firm cutting and grazing regulations and
to energetic fire control.
Finally, there is the dry forest, tending to thorn, scrub, and
eventually desert. Thus you have the wet, the high, and the dry.
But distribution is not quite so simple. As the warm moisture
from the sea rises into the highlands, it establishes planes or belts
of forest growth, each determined by the temperature and rainfall
at successive levels of elevation.
These belts are usually described, in order of ascending elevation,
as (1) the tropical forest, (2) the subtropical forest, (3) the lower
montane forest, (4) the montane forest, and lastly (5) the subalpine
forest. All belts, and all forest types, are widely scattered throughout
the entire Caribbean.
So much for a quick run-down of the forest pattern. What now
are the uses to which these forest varieties can and should be put?
Let us first clearly establish the fact that forests anywhere in the
world are a multiple, general resource, serving the people in count-
less ways; and it should go without saying, they are significant only
to the extent that they can serve the people. We do not believe in
resources for the sake of themselves; we believe in them, and should
nurture them, for the basic social health which their wise use offers
a whole society.
Assuming that the population of the Caribbean will continue its
growth toward levels of intolerable congestion, the protection of
the water supply is obviously the first and most indispensable service
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 60
of these forests. This is emphasized by the fact that the prevailing
moist climate of the mainland in the pre-Cambrian and early Cam-
brian periods has given way to a gradual warming and drying as
a result of glacial recession-leading to what, we have no idea.
Without water a modern people cannot maintain itself. A city
literally lives on water. It is a vital resource for the majority of
industries today. It is absolutely essential for a vigorous agriculture.
As recently as 1957, for example, the agricultural economy of Mexico
suffered a serious setback because of drought; and in that country's
Colorado River Valley, to give only one illustration, vast sums were
spent to bring the waters of irrigation to 25,000 additional acres and
to improve irrigation on 240,000 already cropped acres.
Forests contribute to, or protect, the water supply in three ways:
(1) they encourage precipitation; (2) they store water in the soil;
and (3) they retard the silting and ultimate abandonment of
Therefore, the forests of the Caribbean must be managed to im-
prove their preservation of water, or else this entire great area has
before it nothing but poverty and decline. This is the first role of
the forests, and its achievement must be the first resource concern
of every responsible government.
The second use I would urge of these forests is what we can
best describe as the traditional use-that is, lumber and other simply
milled timber products, naval stores (highly developed, for example,
in Honduras), and pulp and chip products. In such large forest
tracts as are found in Colombia and Venezuela there appears to be
a sufficient resource for large-scale timber exportation. However, I
would urge that the Caribbean region regard itself increasingly as
a community and arrange to serve itself first. Where lumber is
concerned, for instance, the reserves are by no means adequate for
the long-term need; and export of such a precious commodity should
be confined, insofar as possible, to the limits of the Caribbean
In short, fundamental manufactures such as lumber and pulp
should be held within the community. These can be described as
subsistence products, and their short supply does not warrant their
being strewn from one end of the hemisphere to the other. It is a
great temptation to earn a dollar, but there may well come a time
when the earth's resources are so precious for survival that all the
dollars in the world could hardly buy them from one nation for
64 The Caribbean
use by another. When that difficult day comes-and there is much
evidence to indicate that it will-all that a nation, or a regional
community of nations, will have are the resources within its own
The third use I would suggest for these forests is as a wood
supply for local, specialized wood-using industries of the sort that
do not create the timber drain that is more typical of lumber and
pulp. Such industries would be concerned primarily with the manu-
facture of exportable, dollar-earning products. Even though wood
technology is still in its infancy, there are demonstrably profitable
uses that can be made of many of the native Caribbean woods.
Bamboo, for instance, is perhaps the greatest challenge of all the
species, because of its growth rate; yet there have been but the
most limited efforts to find, through technology, the uses to which
this potential dollar earner could be put.
But there are other possibilities which, unlike those of bamboo,
do not first require a scientific or technological breakthrough. Let
me suggest that the magnificent hand skills of the Caribbean people
hold promise for the manufacture and export of luxury furniture
on a scale comparable to that of Denmark and Sweden. Or in an-
other case, there is equal promise for the export of small wood
shapes for industrial use abroad, where very hard woods machined
to close tolerances are required. Indeed, the range of profitable
projects that could be based upon the Caribbean wood supply,
without in themselves making serious inroads on the lumber supply,
is limited only by the ingenuity and energy of the people.
Here let us hasten to recognize that there is, of course, nothing
incompatible in these forest uses: water protection and wood pro-
duction. There are well-known techniques with which all trained
Caribbean foresters are familiar to assure this multiple use of a
forest resource, without a slight to either function.
Now there is a fourth specific forest use of great potential, which
for some inexplicable reason is disregarded in many areas where it
could be most effective: I speak of forests as providers of food.
Throughout the world animal protein is growing in scarcity with the
surge in population. And peoples such as those in the Caribbean,
who must give first emphasis to their water supply, have seen their
forests ravaged by browsing and over-grazing from livestock which
could not conceivably supply the protein need. One obvious answer
is nut tree culture, so brilliantly defined in that classic book, Tree
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES t0D
Crops, by the geographer C. Russell Smith. Nut trees will provide
watershed protection, valuable wood on a sustained-yield basis, and
a tremendous harvest of protein per acre. And in the Caribbean
there is manpower available for the harvesting.
In addition to this opportunity, there is the challenge of further
and imaginative use of the region's superb tree fruits. Indeed, when
people are underfed, or faced by this threat through the pressures
of population growth, the promise of edible tree crops is a challenge
that can no longer be denied. Let me venture the opinion that the
Caribbean could meet 12 to 20 per cent of its food requirement
by means of the thoroughly practical culture of tree crops.
And there you have it: four forest functions which, once achieved
as multiple use under sustained-yield management, would assure
the Caribbean an adequate water supply, lumber and pulp for home
consumption, exportable wood products as dollar earners, and a
substantial increase in local food production.
The urgent question, of course, is how to attain such goals. And
here it might be useful, first, to look at those conditions which have
so depleted the forests since the advent of men in appreciable
The first problem in Caribbean forest management has been the
wretched agricultural cycle of bum-plow-abandon, or "conuco"
farming. What is essentially a nomadic agriculture has no place in
either sound agriculture or sound silviculture. It has created waste,
scrub growth, and endless savannahs.
Another curse to forest maintenance has been the heavy fuel
demands of the people, which has wiped out many tens of thousands
of acres of timber, as witness the naked, eroded hillsides of Haiti.
Fortunately, however, the increasing use of liquid fuel throughout
the region has already dulled the edge of this depredation; and there
is the real possibility that, with a steady rise in the general economy,
the use of wood for fuel will settle to a level that can easily be
sustained by low-value scrub growth.
Over-grazing has been a third blight. And it is likely that this
problem, as is the case with nomadic farming, can be handled effec-
tively only through aggressive governmental regulation. Would
that the authorities of each nation and territory in the Caribbean
66 The Caribbean
could visit the Sahara, and there have it explained to them that these
limitless sweeps of desert were once lush and fertile land, until one
million Arabs moved in, each with upwards of 100 goats-the Sahara
is the result, and a vivid warning to every society which tolerates
free and indiscriminate grazing.
Finally, we come to the most insidious of all causes of forest
mismanagement: governmental indifference. In Puerto Rico, for
example, where the government is distinguished for its progressive
efficiency, it has nevertheless allowed a drag to be put on the
island's astonishing economic renaissance by its own appalling
irresponsibility toward the urgent challenge of reforestation. And
elsewhere, where in some instances governments are not as stable or
progressively efficient as that of Mufioz Marin, this irresponsibility
toward the essential role of tree cover is even more accentuated.
What then can be done? Nothing can be done until there is
governmental recognition, at the highest national level, of the im-
measurable benefit of adequate tree cover and sustained-yield forest
management to the total welfare of the people.
The Fourth FAO Regional Conference for Latin America recog-
nized this when it recommended "that the governments of the Latin
American countries pay even greater attention to their forest re-
sources, for which purpose it is considered advisable to pass
suitable legislation dealing with the subject and to enforce it
Forests, unfortunately, are slow in growing, and their great
potential wealth cannot be achieved in eighteen months. This is
the nub of the governmental problem. Political leadership must
somehow attain a maturity which will enable it to plan and spend
for benefits which, almost certainly, cannot be reaped for many years
beyond its tenure.
These, then, are the obstacles, the traditional stumbling blocks in
the way of a modern forestry management in the Caribbean. When
one considers the havoc which such indiscriminate burning, over-
grazing, clean-cutting for fuel and other purposes, bureaucratic
ineptness, and political irresponsibility have brought upon the
inherent fertility of this region, the future seems ominous. Can
anything at all be done to achieve our four goals for the multiple
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 67
use of the forests? Fortunately constructive steps have already been
taken, and there is measurable yearly progress.
First on the credit side of the ledger is the widespread existence
of basically sound forest laws. These laws, in every territory and
nation of the Caribbean, could be improved upon-as what laws
cannot? But there exists today a bedrock of legal forest protection.
And while it is true that these laws have seldom been implemented
effectively or with zeal-and have actually been flagrantly disre-
garded in certain areas-the hopeful fact is: they do exist. The
importance of this should never be discounted.
The second credit entry concerns the growing team of trained for-
esters available in the Caribbean and the solid research that exists to
back them up. Both the Tropical Forest Research Center in Puerto
Rico and the Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Sciences in
Costa Rica are examples of the type of facility which must be
duplicated and extended to provide a continuing flow of the man-
power and the research that are essential for progress.
There is not, of course, an adequate supply of trained foresters
at the present time; indeed, their number is pitifully small. But so
long as this dedicated nucleus does exist, there is reason for real
In the third place, there is a growing economic strength and
political maturity throughout the Caribbean, which even the most
cynical cannot deny. Such maturity is demonstrated, for instance,
in Trinidad's wise, firm-handed regulation of its timber lands, grow-
ing out of its Land Allocation Policy of 1944. This- is the most
encouraging sort of progress.
Here, then, is the basis for the renaissance in tree cover and in
tree utilization which we seek. Great as the obstacles are, in these
three assets-basic laws, a professional nucleus of foresters, and
growing governmental maturity-rests the hope for ultimate success
in reaching those four goals which the forests themselves make
What must the next step be? What is the specific challenge that
lies, not in some distant future dream, but directly at our feet?
Since the forest resources of the Caribbean community vary so
greatly from place to place, and the human resources as well, I
68 The Caribbean
would urge the establishment of cooperative movements at two
First, let us have a Caribbean association of private forest owners,
of wood products manufacturers, of conservationists, of individual
foresters whether publicly or privately employed. This is to say, let
us have a private, international association comparable in the
Caribbean community to the American Forestry Association in the
United States. Through the rapid and intensive interchange of
information, through the enthusiasm inevitably generated by such
a group, through what we would hope would be disinterested and
objective representations by the association to the governments of
the region concerning forest opportunities-through such proper
functions as these a Caribbean Forestry Association would be a
great and intelligent stimulus.
Second, let the territories and nations involved join in chartering
a forest development corporation to coordinate the consumption
of forest resources for the good of the entire region-to see to it
that this potential forest wealth is used first for the benefit of the
Caribbean peoples themselves. Explorations into the problems
and opportunities of group marketing, of timber grade standard-
ization, of transportation rates-all this and more would fall to
such an organization.
Already steps have been taken in this direction through the
Caribbean Commission of the West Indies and the Central American
Integration scheme. But forest interests of the entire Caribbean,
both mainland and islands, must be embraced within a corporate
structure for specific developmental services to the forest economy.
I cannot attempt to prescribe precise steps for the establishment
of either the association or the corporation-and no man could. This
will require a tremendous amount of clever, perceptive planning by
many people working in mutual trust. This I do know, however:
both organizations must have modest beginnings and grow cautiously
toward full stature. It is far easier to correct mistakes in a small
structure than in a large one. Both a forestry association and a
development corporation must evolve from the experience and the
lessons of one step at a time. Thus built, they will be strong,
enduring, and of great value to the welfare of the people.
If such steps as these are taken, building upon the base which
already exists, there is no practical reason why the neglected wealth
of the forest land will not become one of the chief assets of the
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 69
Caribbean, contributing to the health of the region's entire society.
It is entirely possible. Whether it is probable, depends upon the
caliber of leadership which must arise to meet the challenge.
1. Our Plundered Planet (Boston, 1948), p. 168.
2. George H. T. Kimble, The Way of the World (New York, 1953), p. 42.
3. Report of the Fourth Regional Conference for Latin America, FAO
(Rome, 1957), p. 60.
Linden B. Arthur: SIGNIFICANCE OF PETROLEUM
IN THE CARIBBEAN
I BELIEVE that you will agree with me that these conferences
have paralleled-in fact, have been born from-the problems that
have arisen from an almost unprecedented economic and social
growth taking place, not only in the Caribbean, but in almost every
corner of the globe since World War II. This is a growth that has
created new standards of living and education everywhere. It has
brought a desire on the part of people to improve their lot and to
enjoy the fruits of a new prosperity and freedom. For the same
reasons this has been an era of new political consciousness and
In many ways this growth of economic, industrial, and social
activity has paralleled an equally dramatic expansion of the oil
industry. I do not mean simply that the oil industry, along with
other industries, has benefited and prospered as the world's economy
has gone forward. Certainly it has done that. But what is more
important is that in the Caribbean as in the Middle East, or for that
matter anywhere in the world, oil has been one of the great catalysts
of economic and social development itself.
Certainly there are other resources that have played a similar role.
To me, however, oil especially is the great two-sided economic coin.
Where there has been oil there has been the demand for men and
machines to utilize it-for new technology, for education, housing,
74 The Caribbean
roads, and transportation-and where this new industry has flour-
ished there has in turn been a demand for oil. Oil and the tremen-
dous investments it has required have generated demands for the
development of other natural resources. Once liberated from its
deep underground sands, oil sets in motion forces that transform
the surface life.
It is true that only a few of the countries in the Caribbean area
can be said to be commercially rich in oil. These are, as you know,
Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and Trinidad. There are, of course,
indications that oil does exist in other areas. Active exploration is
being carried out in Guatemala, Panama, Barbados, Costa Rica, and
Cuba by a number of oil companies. Cuba already produces a very
small quantity of crude, but not enough by far even to supply its
But whatever the future holds in opening up new reserves in
the Caribbean, oil has already had a profound effect in accelerating
the growth of the entire area. Apart from the Middle Eastern coun-
tries, it is difficult to think of another part of the world where this
natural resource promises so much for the future prosperity of the
It is estimated that by 1965 the total free world consumption of
oil will increase by more than 80 per cent over the current rate. This
is a staggering figure. Any country or area that has favorable oil
reserves, as does much of the Caribbean, is thus assured of a promis-
ing market and bright industrial future-provided that area's
potential can be realized.
In the light of such prospects and possibilities, it becomes perhaps
an all too pressing question as to how they can be realized.
Here in the United States the answer to such a question would
seem to be a very natural and simple one: investment capital. I
recognize that in the case of oil, unlike that of many other natural
resources, enormous capital expenditures and risks are involved.
Exploration for oil alone may take years. In remote areas entire
towns have to be constructed, complete with homes, stores, hospitals,
and recreation areas. Roads must be built, even food imported.
Often the drilling for water has had to take precedence over drilling
MINERAL RESOURCES 75
All this effort and expense may have to be undertaken before it is
certain that there is any oil to drill for. And once oil is discovered-
if it is discovered-there remains the task of transportation, of con-
structing harbor and docking facilities, and the laying of pipe lines.
In Colombia, for example, where Texaco is now the largest pro-
ducer of oil, we spent nearly 127 million dollars over a period of
thirty years before putting our operation there on an annual profit-
making basis. Even now, after all our effort, much of our original
invested capital has yet to be regained.
Again, as many of you know, Texaco made a huge investment in
the Caribbean through the purchase of the Trinidad Oil Company
in 1956. This move was a very significant one both for our company
and for Trinidad. For us it meant that we became the largest oil
producer on the island, and it substantially increased our refining
capacity in the Western Hemisphere. For Trinidad it meant new
markets for the country's oil and fresh capital for the development
of its resources.
Both these investments, however, and indeed all our investments
in the Caribbean, have involved a good deal more than a simple
business venture based on the possible return on capital. All these
investments also express a deep confidence in the economic and
social growth, stability, and freedom of the whole area itself.
Anyone who has lived and worked in the Caribbean knows that
this is not an idle or rhetorical confidence. I have spoken before of
the economic and political unrest that has necessarily accompanied
the rapid and spreading industrialization of the past ten years. I
do not have to tell you that the problems of economic management,
of political unrest, and nationalistic fervor are as serious and real
in the Caribbean as they are in other parts of the globe.
I hope that no one will suggest that the possible outcome of such
unrest is only one more of the risks that the oil industry, for example,
must take in the course of its normally risky business. We are not
dealing here with simply the fortunes of the Texas Company, or
with those of other oil companies, or, indeed, with the prospects of
any company in whatever business in the Caribbean. The stakes
involved are far greater than this. They are the economic develop-
ment, stability, and prosperity of the area itself.
76 The Caribbean
I am certain that you are here at this Conference not merely to
discuss the natural resources that lie dormant in Caribbean soil.
You are here because you are deeply concerned, as I am, with the
economics, attitudes, and understanding that will make possible their
In many of these countries, unlike a complex and diversified nation
such as the United States, one or two resources may literally shape
or shake the total economic and cultural structure. In such cases,
the very activity of the investing companies may become one of the
major forces for disrupting the routine and traditional life of these
nations. Quite apart from the activity caused by the operations
themselves, the monies made available to-and shared by-these
countries help to create fresh problems of economic management,
political judgment, and power.
It is obvious that within such potentially unstable conditions the
investing companies, if they show wisdom or far-sightedness, must
promote economic and social order. This is not a matter of altruism.
It is a matter of trying to create conditions for corporate survival and
thus for the continued development of the country's resources.
If you look at the history of the oil industry in the Caribbean, for
example, you will see that our investment policies have been
extremely progressive. But it seems to me that these policies, how-
ever they continue to help raise living standards, cannot alone be
expected to create the sort of economic climate in which capital
investment itself may flourish.
I am not questioning that our good works and progressive policies
have provided a secure bridge for cooperation and respect between
our countries. But it seems to me that only where a country under-
stands and attains a working knowledge of capitalism will free
investment capital itself ultimately survive. Only where that system
is really accepted as the necessary foundation for building the
country's own healthy and mature economy can we ourselves expect
understanding and acceptance.
In fact, it seems increasingly clear to me that in all these growing
areas we are faced with a battle that must be won, not only on the
economic front, but also in the minds of men.
I am not suggesting that the battle can be won without providing
jobs and filling stomachs. But the problems of these growing coun-
tries are too urgent, the pressures of international ideologies too
great, to postpone a comprehension of the working principles needed
MINERAL RESOURCES "'l
to assure the area's economic development, social prosperity, and
Part of our job, part of the job of Texaco, is an understanding and
respect of the customs, traditions, and hopes of the peoples of these
nations. We must build a mutual trust on which common appraisals
and confidences can grow.
But I am convinced that the real challenge to the free world today
is whether we can communicate and help instill a working knowl-
edge of the very principles that have created our own high standards
of living and individual freedom. There is no easy answer to meeting
such a challenge. Certainly we must start by disabusing ourselves of
the naive belief that we will somehow attain acceptance by our
good works alone-or even by the good example of the United States.
If the free economic system is to survive in these countries, then it
must be translated into patterns indigenous to their own cultural life.
The justification of capitalism, after all, is not that it has resulted
in what we in America call "our way of life." Its justification any-
where is the achievement of social good through the exploitation of
the very natural and universal-and thus very powerful-incentives
of economic self-interest. That the system requires balances and
counterbalances, and undergoes modification in the development
of a country's economy, is evident from the history of the United
States itself. But that it is also the only framework within which
the forces of individual enterprise can serve the common good while
preserving individual freedom seems to me equally evident.
Fortunately, as this Conference itself attests, there is a growing
recognition that the free growth of one country is also dependent
upon a working understanding between it and other free nations.
Where men of different cultures can sit down together in serious
conference-as we are doing this week and on this level-there is
certainly hope for a hard-headed assessment of the economics I
have been talking about.
Cecil Morgan: THE CARIBBEAN
AND ITS PETROLEUM
OF ALL THE NATURAL RESOURCES of the Caribbean,
petroleum has been the most productive economically. In varying
quantities oil occurs in much of the area. The accompanying map
shows the outline of the sedimentary basins, or the regions in which
petroleum is structurally most likely to be discovered. Most of these
regions have been explored for oil to some degree, while some or
parts of them have been explored intensively.
The land area totals about 1,800,000 square miles. An estimated
630,000 square miles, or 35 per cent, appear geologically to have
possibilities for the accumulation of oil. However, only actual drill-
ing can prove its presence; therefore, while the shading on the map
indicates that certain Caribbean countries or islands may have oil,
it is possible that drilling would prove discouraging. One of the
most tantalizing of experiences is to discover oil, but only in un-
economic quantities. The discovery of small quantities has often led
to expenditures far greater than the return. Experienced prospectors,
consequently, avoid making investments unless the promise is for
a sizable return. For this reason, limited available surface areas can
discourage prospecting even when other factors are favorable.
In the case of the Caribbean, therefore, it is interesting to see
that there are large sedimentary basins or otherwise structurally
favorable areas in Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, and Trini-
dad. Of the favorable area 52 per cent is in Venezuela, Colombia,
and Trinidad, and 32.5 per cent in Mexico. Only a small portion of
the latter country is shown on the map, the remainder bordering