Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Soils and soil conditions
 Assistance by the government for...
 Suggested lines of work for the...
 Report of the imperial institute...
 Publications of the empire marketing...

Group Title: Great Britain. Empire Marketing Board. Publications E.M.B., 40
Title: Report on development of agriculture in the Bahamas
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00075007/00001
 Material Information
Title: Report on development of agriculture in the Bahamas
Physical Description: 39 p. : ; 25cm.
Language: English
Creator: Sampson, Hugh Charles, 1878-
Publisher: H. M. Stationery Off.
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1931
Subject: Agriculture -- Bahamas   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00075007
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000136447
oclc - 01747225
notis - AAQ2507

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Page 1
    Title Page
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Soils and soil conditions
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
        Vegetables - agriculture on the "white lands"
            Page 17
        Animal husbandry
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
    Assistance by the government for the development of agriculture
        Page 23
    Suggested lines of work for the improvement of agriculture
        Page 24
        Crop improvement and plant introduction
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
        Live stock
            Page 27
        School gardens - markets and marketing
            Page 28
            Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Report of the imperial institute advisory committee on vegetable fibres on sisal from the Bahamas
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Publications of the empire marketing board
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
Full Text






H. C. Sampson, C.I.E.,
Economic Botanist,
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

June, 1931

To be purchased directly from H.M. STATIONERY OFFICE at the following addresses:
Adastral House, Kingsway, London, W.C. ; 120, George Street, Edinburgh;
York Street, Manchester; I, St. Andrew's Crescent, Cardiff;
15, Donegall Square West, Belfast;
or through any Bookseller.

Price is. od. Net




II.-ITINERARY .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 7


IV.-AGRICULTURE .. .. .. .. 11
1. Sisal .. .. .. .. .... .. .. 13
2. Pineapples .. .. .. .. .. 14
3. Fruit .. .. .. .. .. .. 16
4. Vegetables .. .. .. .. .. .. 17
5. Agriculture on the White lands .. .. .. 17
6. Animal Husbandry .. .. .. .. .. 18
7. General .. .. .. .. .. .. 20

CULTURE .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 23

1. Crop Improvement and Plant Introduction .. .. .. 24
2. Live Stock .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 27
3. School Gardens .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 28
4. Markets and Marketing .. .. .. .. .. .. 28

VII.-CoNcLUSION .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 30

1. Report of the Imperial Institute Advisory Committee on
Vegetable Fibres on Sisal from the Bahamas .. .. 33

(5965) Wt. P383/1088/125 1,500 6/31 Hw G,3

Letter from Sir Arthur W. Hill, K.C.M.G., F.R.S., Director, Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew, covering Mr. Sampson's Report.
15th September, 1930.
With further reference to Colonial Office letter No. 66929/1929
of 14th February, 1930, I have pleasure in enclosing a Report by
Mr. H. C. Sampson, my Economic Botanist, on his recent visit to
the Bahamas.
With regard to the proposal that experiments should be made in
" scarifying rocky land for purposes of orchard cultivation, Mr.
Sampson on pages 21-23 of his Report describes the methods adopted
in Florida and how far they are applicable to conditions in the
Bahamas. While not saying that such experiments are unnecessary,
he points out the limited scope there is for such a system of cultivation
in the out-islands visited by him, the risk from hurricanes to which
such orchards would be subject-a risk which apparently is much
greater in the Bahamas than it is in Florida-and he suggests that
such a system of orchard cultivation could only be recommended
to those whose financial status might warrant their taking such a
With regard to the Bahamas Sisal Industry, this matter has
been laid before the Imperial Institute Advisory Committee on
Vegetable Fibres, which at its last meeting formed a Sub-Committee
to go fully into the question of Bahamas Sisal. A further and
more detailed report may therefore be expected from that quarter.
In his Report, Mr. Sampson has laid considerable emphasis on the
exploitation of the fertility of the soil which has taken place in the
past. He emphasizes the importance of a more permanent form of
cultivation, which would be necessary should the production of winter
vegetables for the Canadian market be developed. As this market
offers the advantage of a regular and reliable sea transport service,
as well as over competing countries in the matter of tariffs, I
consider his suggestions are worthy of serious consideration.
With reference to the proposed appointment of an Agricultural
Officer, Mr. Sampson has indicated several directions in which
agricultural research is required, and I would suggest that in the
event of this officer's appointment, facilities and funds sufficient to
allow for such essential work should be placed at his disposal.

In the itinerary, which Mr. Sampson gives at the commencement
of his Report, he refers to the generous assistance given to him during
his visits to Florida and Porto Rico, and I would suggest that suitable
acknowledgment might be conveyed through the proper channels
to :-Dr. Wilmon Newell, Director of the Experiment Station,
Gainsville, Florida; Dr. C. V. Noble, Agricultural Economist, on
his staff; Dr. Carlos Chandon, the Commissioner of the Insular
Department of Agriculture, San Juan, Porto Rico; and to Dr.
Mel. T. Cook, Plant Pathologist, on his staff.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
(Signed) ARTHUR W. HILL,
The Under Secretary of State,
Colonial Office,
Downing Street,
London, S.W.1.

(5965) B


I arrived in Nassau on the evening of 17th May and stayed there
till the 21st. Both His Excellency the Governor and the Colonial
Secretary very kindly took me out in their cars and I was thus
enabled to see the greater part of the island of New Providence,
especially those parts which were typical of the existing soil conditions.
On 21st May I left by launch to visit the following out-islands:-
Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island and Exuma. I
was in all cases met by the Island Commissioners concerned, who not
only introduced me to those practically interested in agriculture, but
accompanied me on any visits of inspection that I made.
I reached Nassau again on 5th June and left for Bermuda on the
8th, reaching there on the 11th. During my stay in Bermuda, Mr.
McCallan, the Director of Agriculture, arranged for me to visit those
sections of the island where truck farming was most highly developed,
and I also had the opportunity of visiting the Agricultural Station
attached to the Botanic Garden and of making myself familiar with
the various activities of the Agricultural Department.
On 17th June I sailed for New York, reaching there on the 19th,
and on the following day left for Gainsville in Florida. I spent three
days here. Immediately after my arrival I called on the Director of
the Experiment Station, who is also Dean of the College of Agriculture,
through whose good offices I was able to meet many members of the
staff of the College and to gain very valuable information regarding
problems in which I was interested. While I was in Florida I was
enabled to visit the several Experiment Stations in the State, as well
as the extensive sugar cane developments near Lake Ocheechobee.
This was rendered possible through the courtesy of the Director of
the Experiment Station, who arranged that Dr. Noble, the Professor
of Agricultural Economics should take me by car to visit these, as
well as any other agricultural developments which I wished to
see. This tour in Florida extended from 25th June, when I
left Gainsville, until 30th June, when I left Jacksonville to return to
(5965) B 2

New York. I should like to take this opportunity of acknowledging
my indebtedness to Dr. Noble for thus placing himself at my disposal
and to the Director and Assistant Director for making this possible.
On 3rd July I again left New York for Porto Rico and arrived at
San Juan on the morning of the 7th. I called on Dr. Carlos Chardon,
the Commissioner of the Insular Department of Agriculture, who
arranged that Dr. Mel. T. Cook, the Plant Pathologist at the Rio
Piedra Experiment Station, should accompany me on my travels and
who also placed a Government car at our disposal. By this means
I was able, within the short time at my disposal, to see a great deal
that was of value and interest to me, more especially the extension
work connected with the pineapple crop, both on the coastal plains
on the north of the island, where in places the conditions are somewhat
similar to those which prevail in the Bahamas, as well as on the hilly
soils of the interior. A visit was paid to the Federal Experiment
Station at Mayaguez, where I had the opportunity of meeting Dr.
Freeman, the Director, and Mr. McClelland, the Horticulturist. I
was also able to see something of the experimental work, chiefly with
coffee, which was being carried on here. The return journey to San
Juan skirted the coastal plain through the irrigated sugar cane area
of the west and south coasts as far as Ponse, whence we returned to
San Juan by the military road which passes through the main tobacco
areas of the uplands. I should like here to express my appreciation
of the help which Dr. Cook personally gave me and of Dr. Carlos
Chardon's action in making this tour possible for me.
On 11th July I returned to New York, reaching there on the 14th.
I had intended to visit Dr. A. F. Wood at the U.S. Department of
Agriculture at Washington before I sailed for England on the 19th,
who had arranged facilities for my visits to Florida and Porto Rico,
but unfortunately my health did not allow of this. I reached
Plymouth on the evening of the 26th July.

The Bahama Islands are of limestone formation and this rock is
very much in evidence-so much so that at a casual glance one is
under the impression that agricultural soils are non-existent. The
character of this limestone rock is, however, very variable. In

places it is a marine formation as indicated by the fossils found in it,
but in other parts it is composed of calcareous sand, which has been
cemented into rock and contains fossils of land origin. From a
geological point of view the Bahama limestones are comparatively
recent and this accounts for the shallowness of the soils which may
or may not cover the rock surface. The limestone rock which is
exposed to the surface varies considerably in character. In some
cases-and this was a general characteristic of the out-islands visited
-the surface of this limestone is extremely hard and is known locally
as flint rock." This may appear as a sheet of smooth rock covering
the surface with here and there fissures or irregular cavities in which
a humus soil has accumulated. These fissures may undercut the
softer rock below and may be quite extensive. It is not uncommon
to see citrus, avocado and other trees growing out of what appears
to be almost solid rock. In other places this surface rock though
extremely hard is deeply pitted, leaving sharp jagged projections
with little or no soil covering. These pits may be quite small and
shallow or they may be several yards across and of varying depth.
Many of them are much deeper than they are broad. Here the
organic soil is found chiefly below the ground level, though in places
where the bush has not been cleared for a long period there may be
a covering of leaf humus. The larger of these pits are known as
"banana holes and in them bananas, sapodillas, mangoes, citrus,
avocado and coconut trees may be grown.
In their natural state such areas as have been described are covered
with a fairly thick growth of stunted forest, which in the past has
built up these organic soils.
Another type of rock surface is seen on the island of New Providence
and is known as "pine barrens." This is also a limestone and
presents a surface which resembles a much fissured lava flow. Very
little soil is to be seen and the vegetation consists mainly of pines
(Pinus bahamense) which grow out of the broken rock. There is a
very sparse undergrowth and this is mainly of small ferns, though one
occasionally sees the sabal palm. Though no surface soil is in
evidence on these "pine barrens," a certain amount exists and is
evident when one examines the rock below the surface, which is
frequently exposed where the pine trees have been uprooted by
hurricanes. This pine barren rock is very much softer than the
" flint rock already mentioned and it would appear that a consider-
able amount of weathering is in progress. It is not a solid white

rock and seems to have been a honeycombed soft limestone where
the cavities have been filled in by subsequent deposits of marl. This
marl, which is reddish-brown in colour, seems to weather readily,
and where the rock is exposed it has frequently been dissolved or
washed away. Similar rock to this is to be found in the Dade County
of Florida and here of recent years large areas have been brought
under fruit cultivation, the land being prepared by mechanical
attrition, or as it is known by scarifying."
Between the pine barrens and the flint rock formation
there appears to be an intermediate type of rock, not so soft and
broken up as the former, nor so solid in appearance as the latter.
Here, palms, bracken and fairly thick bush occur. Judging by the
type of vegetation the organic soils formed on this type are acid in
On most of the islands, fairly extensive areas of what are termed
"white lands are to be found near the coast. Generally, these
are wave or wind-borne calcareous sands which, though infertile of
themselves, appear capable of being improved and converted into
valuable agricultural land. On Long Island these "white lands "
appear to be considerably older than elsewhere and extend over the
greater part of the north end of the island. These are undulating
in character and the ridges running through this are composed of
what is termed "sandstone "-a soft friable rock composed of
calcareous sand cemented together by carbonate of lime. Sometimes
these sands are at sea level and here mangrove may appear, and there
may also be a peaty formation several feet in thickness. In some
places, such as in the neighbourhood of Clarence Town on Long
Island and in parts of Exuma, the limestone rock has been broken
up or it may be that it has never been cemented together and here
considerably more surface soil is in evidence. This seems to be either
soil developed in situ or an admixture with wind-blown calcareous
sand. Such soils are sometimes referred to as grey soils.
On many of the islands there are dips in the surface of the land
where real soils have accumulated. These are red loams which have
probably been derived from marls and which may have at some
previous period occupied rock crevices. One can occasionally find
traces of such soil, though not weathered to the same extent, in the
bottom of rock crevices which are overlain by black humus soil.
These red soils at one time were extensively cultivated with pine-
apples and are generally known as "pineapple soils. None of

such red soils are deep, however, and their extent depends on the
configuration of the land. On Exuma, for example, which is peculiar
for its rapidly undulating surface, such patches of red soil are frequent,
but the areas of these patches are never sufficiently large to warrant
the development of permanent arable agriculture. Red soils similar
to these are common in the tropics, where the underlying rock consists
of limestone and if properly farmed are valuable agricultural land.
The "black soils of the Bahamas are mainly of organic origin
formed from the leaf fall of the forest covering, and are at the present
day to be found in the rock crevices in the flint rock." There is
evidence that at one time this covering of "black soil" was much
deeper than it is at the present day and that since the occupation
by the present type of population. The extent of cotton cultivation
carried on by the Royalists who settled in these islands at the time
of the American Revolution and the yields obtained, which have been
recorded, indicate that the volume of soil, covering these rocks, was
then much greater than it is now. The numerous "slave walls"
which were built in the past either to enclose land for cultivation or
for pasturage, would seem to indicate the existence of a more extensive
and fertile soil than is to be seen to-day, for it is difficult to conceive
that anyone would at the present time go to the expense of building
such walls even though the cost of the labour involved consists merely
in the upkeep of slave labour. The bleached appearance of much
of this flint rock with an occasional cap of grey-coloured rock,
showing the contour level of the soil as it previously existed, is,
however, by itself ample evidence of the rapid extinction of this
organic soil, which at the present time is seldom seen above the rock
surface and generally only exists in the rock crevices.
These black soils are, however, extremely rich and, consisting
as they do largely of decayed leaf mould, are capable of holding
considerable amounts of moisture. Thus, though the soil may occur
in isolated pockets which may not be of any great depth, they are
comparatively drought resistant. It is these "black soils which
supply in the main the food requirements of the people.

The Bahamas at the time of their discovery by Columbus had an
indigenous population who presumably must have grown their own
food requirements. Nothing, however, is known of the extent of this

or of any agricultural practice which existed. This population soon
became extinct, largely, it is said, owing to forcible emigration to Cuba
and other islands under Spanish control for work on plantations.
The indigenous race was replaced by peoples of European descent,
together with their African slaves. Little is known of the agricultural
activities during these early days of settlement, but it is probable
that the type of agriculture which existed originated largely from
African practice and even to the present day West African practices
are to be found, and some of the crops are known by their old West
African trade names, such as Guinea corn and Beni seed, while
escapes from cultivation such as indigo are common around the
settlements of the out-islands. The sheep and goats also which are
to be seen on these islands closely resemble the types seen in West
Africa and there can be little doubt that these originated from there.

The earliest record of any extensive cultivation of economic crops
is that of cotton which is said to have been introduced by Royalist
settlers from the American mainland at about the time of the
American war of Independence. Cotton seems to have been
extensively cultivated by these settlers and their slaves. Thus, it
is recorded that on Crooked Island there were 40 plantations of cotton
extending to an area of 2,000 to 3,000 acres, while on Long Island
there were at about the same time over 4,000 acres under this crop.
These crops were worked by slaves, who were allotted areas of from
5 to 6 acres each to work. Within 20 years, however, this cultivation
was practically abandoned and a committee of planters at that time
reported the causes for this to be :-Insect attacks; the use of land
unsuited to its culture; wasteful methods of clearing the land for
cultivation; and exhaustion of the soil by unremitted tillage. This
cultivation appears, therefore, to have been a mere exploitation of
the capital fertility of the soil for the sake of a money crop. The
very fact that cotton cultivation was carried on on such an extensive
scale would seem to indicate that the depth of soil on these islands
was at that time much greater than it is at the present time. Agri-
culture as it is carried on now, may best be described as a crude and
extensive type of rock-gardening.

Except on the white lands," there does not appear to have been
any permanent arable agriculture in these islands. The mainstay
of the people is and has been the shifting cultivation of the black soil,
and on these the bulk of their foodstuffs are and have been grown.

In spite of this, however, these islands are probably more self-
supporting than are any other part of the West Indies. The methods
of farming on these black soils are very primitive, and it is difficult
to see how they can be anything else. After the land has been culti-
vated for two or, at the most, three years, it is allowed to revert to
bush, and after a period of some years the bush, which has grown up,
is again cut, left to wither out and then it is burnt. The burning of
this bush is in itself destructive, as much of the humus accumulated
on the ground is destroyed, though care is taken not to burn this
felled bush unless there has been rain. No cultivation of the land
is given. In fact, cultivation in the ordinary sense is impossible,
since the only soil that remains is to be found in the crevices in the
rock surface. Thus, the only implements in use are the cutlass and
a pointed stick for sowing the seed.
Maize and cowpeas are generally sown early in the season and later
on Guinea corn, white beans (a small seeded lima bean) and pigeon
peas are sown. With the early crop pumpkins, water-melons and
melons are sometimes sown, as well as onions for local use. Later
in the season sweet peppers are also occasionally planted and in
recent years the extensive cultivation of tomatoes has, in areas
accessible to markets, replaced the late season crops. Sweet potatoes
are also reported to be extensively cultivated, but I saw little evidence
of this crop. The tomato crop is manured with artificial fertilisers
and, where these have been grown, the land is planted in the following
season with the ordinary food crops of the people, in order to utilise
any manurial residues left in the soil.
Sisal.-Within the last 50 years extensive areas, mainly of the
black soils, have been cleared and planted with sisal and I saw
small areas still being planted in Long Island. The industry has,
however, fallen on evil days, following a period of great prosperity
during the war period. From information furnished to me on the
out-islands I learned that the producer was now getting from 6s.
to 10s. a hundredweight for his fibre, a price well below the cost of
Reading the Bulletin of the Agricultural Department, Bahamas,"
it is evident that more than 20 years ago the Out-islanders "
themselves realized that the future of the industry depended on a
maintenance of quality and on more than one occasion the Out-Island
Agricultural Associations made requests that Government should

pass an ordinance placing restrictions on the export of low grade and
badly cleaned sisal. An Act was passed in 1918 for the examination
of sisal for export, but this has not helped matters since this
examination is optional. Samples of sisal now offered for sale show
many defects which are preventable, and it must be very difficult
for export merchants to grade these into saleable lots. The present
position was clearly forecasted in these requests for regulating this
trade. It was pointed out that as such large areas of land which
would otherwise have rested as bush were cleared and planted with
this crop, it was essential that a remunerative price should be
maintained. Otherwise the depleted fertility of the islands, on account
of such large clearings, would prove a serious menace to agricultural
development in the future.
Sisal from the Bahamas has now to meet competition with that
produced under estate conditions both in East Africa and Mexico,
and it seems essential that stronger measures should be taken by
Government to restrict the export of badly cleaned and inferior fibre.
The very low price which the producer now gets means'the neglect
of the plantations. Bush is allowed to grow up and suckers can be
seen everywhere crowding out the main plants and damaging the
larger leaves, which should produce the better quality of fibre.
Matters must go from bad to worse unless something is done.
The matter is being taken up by Kew with the Imperial Institute
Advisory Committee on Vegetable Fibres, and their views on the
matter should be of value. Samples of the various grades now
exported have been procured and will be at the disposal of this
Pineapples.-At the beginning of this century the Bahamas had
a flourishing industry in the cultivation of pineapples, and I was
told that as many as 33 vessels have been known to lie at anchor
at one time in Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, waiting to load fruit.
This industry has now practically disappeared, though I was able to
see a few small areas still cultivated with pines. The cultivation
was chiefly confined to the red or pineapple" soils of these islands.
The crops which I saw were in general in a very unhealthy condition
and were suffering severely from calcium chlorosis. According to
recent investigations which have been carried out in Porto Rico, it is
stated that pineapples will not thrive in a soil which has a pH value
above 6. This would, in all probability, account for the decline in this

industry; for when these soils were first exploited it is reasonable to
conclude that they contained much larger quantities of organic matter
in the shape of leaf mould formed from the natural forest cover than
they do now. The practice when making a new plantation is the
same as when a clearing is made on the black soils. The bush is
cut, left to wither and is then burnt and the pineapple slip or sucker
is planted out on the cleared ground. Such plantations were formerly
left for several years until they no longer produced fruit of a marketable
size and quality. The plantation was then allowed to revert again
to bush-very often an almost pure stand of Leucaena glauca-and
after it has been given a rest for several years the land would again
be similarly cleared and planted. Mixed fertilisers, purchased from
American fertilizer firms, were extensively employed to maintain
these plantations, and it is claimed that some of these manure
mixtures were much better than others, but there is no record of
what ingredients such fertilisers were composed. With this periodic
clearing, burning and the exposure of the soil to the sun, there is
little doubt that much of the organic portion of the soil has been
dissipated and as this has disappeared the soils have become alkaline,
with the result that the pineapples have become weakly and chlorotic.
So weak have these plants become that they hardly produce enough
suckers for replanting, while very few produce fruits which could be
graded for export. Samples of these pineapple soils have been
examined by the Imperial Institute. Whether it would be possible
to restore these soils to a condition which would produce marketable
fruit is uncertain. The cultivation of green soiling crops, the use of
leaf mulch made from bush cut from outside, the leaf fall from bush
cut from the clearing, the avoidance of burning felled bush, the use
of acid fertilisers and applications of sulphur either to the pineapple
crop itself or preferably to a previously grown green manure crop,
are all means by which the soil could be made suitable for this
cultivation, but whether such improvement would mean the
resuscitation of this industry is a matter for experiment. I saw a
trial made at Governor's Harbour of the use of a weak solution of
iron sulphate on a pineapple crop which apparently had had good
results. The analyses of these soils also indicate that applications
of ferrous sulphate would prove of value.
The general consensus of opinion among former pineapple growers
was that the island stocks of pineapple were exhausted, and that if
fresh stocks were imported that would be the end of their troubles.
(5965) c 2

There is no doubt that the weakness of the present sets exists and
that plants raised from them do not get a good start. Vigorous
imported sets might therefore give temporary vigour. This has
been proved: for some 20 years ago sets were imported from Cuba
and the crop raised from these was very much superior to that raised
from local sets, but apparently these soon reverted to the degenerate
condition of the island's stock. Any large importation of sets should
therefore wait till it is found out whether it is possible to renovate
these soils.
From experiments which I saw on a pineapple estate in Porto
Rico, it was there shown that where the plants are healthy local
sets give the best plants, provided that these are rogued and any
plants which give degenerate types of fruit removed. In the event
of the Bahamas requiring fresh sets of the Red Spanish pine in the
future, Dr. Cook, of the Porto Rico Insular Department of Agri-
culture, informed me that his department would be pleased to render
any help possible in procuring what was wanted.
Fruit.-Citrus and other sub-tropical and tropical fruits are to be
seen in the neighbourhood of many settlements, both on New
Providence as well as on many of the out-islands," and at one
time there existed a fairly flourishing export trade in oranges and
grape-fruit; but except as a local industry, this has ceased to exist-
in fact there are considerable imports of such fruits into Nassau.
Citrus on many of the islands has suffered from the introduction of
the "blue-grey" fly, which has destroyed the majority of the trees
and has left the rest in so unhealthy a condition that they have
practically ceased to bear fruit. The frequent occurrence within
recent years of devastating hurricanes has to all intents and purposes
completed this destruction. A considerable effort has been made
within recent years to control the blue-grey fly by spraying, but
as far as I could see this merely causes temporary relief, since it is
not possible to destroy the ants which are evidently the means of
spreading this and other sucking insects, such as aphis and scale.
When fruit trees are grown in rock crevices it would be extremely
difficult to get at the ants' nests, which may be anywhere below the
rock surface. This does not mean that if a constant watch is kept
for a recurrence of pest damage it cannot be kept under control by
spraying, for there are growers who have done so; but, owing to
the hurricanes and the damage which they cause, a citrus industry
must always be extremely precarious. This also applies to any other

fruit tree industry and I did not see a single avocado tree on New
Providence Island, which had not been broken down by the recent
hurricanes. The only fruit tree which appears to be at all able to
stand up to hurricanes is the sapodilla, and on all the islands visited
this seems to flourish and crop well. Unfortunately, it is not a fruit
which lends itself to distant transport, moreover a taste for the fruit
has to be acquired.
On some of the islands the blue-grey fly has not yet made its
appearance and there are fine healthy, though isolated citrus trees,
planted in "banana holes." This type of domestic fruit culture
could, I consider, be made profitable, especially if previous advice
regarding the amount of crop available were notified in Nassau.
Local citrus fruits have the reputation of having a much better
flavour than any which are imported, but it is of little use sending
fruit in when the Nassau market is fully stocked with fruit from
Vegetables.-During the time when Mr. Cunningham was employed
as Curator of the Botanic Gardens, the Board of Agriculture seems
to have created a considerable interest in the cultivation of vegetables,
with the object of supplying these to the winter markets of North
America, and there seems to have been no doubt that this interest
was fostered by the periodic visits which Mr. Cunningham was able
to make to the out-islands." The present flourishing industry
of growing tomatoes is evidently an outcome of these activities. A
very promising start also was made with onions in several of the
" out-islands but as no arrangements seem to have been made
to handle the crop for export, and as the Nassau market was soon
glutted, this cultivation seems to have come to an abrupt end. On
Long Island in 1908 it is reported that many tons of onions were left
unsold on the producers' hands. This was unfortunate, since a crop
such as this is particularly suited to the less accessible islands which
cannot safely handle a perishable crop such as tomatoes.
Agriculture on the white lands is perhaps the highest type of
arable farming practised on these islands. These are the only soils
which are deep enough to cultivate and on which a permanent form
of arable farming can be developed. Up to the present only hand
implements are in use for cultivation, with one exception, which I
came across on Long Island, where an American negro from Georgia,
who had settled on the island, was using a plough which he had made

himself with a set of shares which he had brought over from the
States. So successful had his farming been last year that several
of his neighbours had also stumped their land and had borrowed
his plough to cultivate their lands in a similar manner. This
indicates that demonstrated improvements in agricultural practice
would be readily accepted by the people.
As I have mentioned already, these white lands are not rich in
plant food. Analysis of a sample of "white land" soil obtained
from Rock Sound, Eleuthera, shows that this consists almost entirely
of calcium carbonate while it only contained a trace of phosphoric
acid. This sand merely forms a matrix for manure and it is in the
utilisation of any manures which are available that this type of
farming has been able to hold its own. One sees every effort being
made to conserve available sources of manure for applying to the
land. In the settlements stable manure is carefully collected, while
seaweed is either collected, heaped and allowed to rot, or it is collected
into heaps on the seashore, where it is burnt and the ashes are carried
to the fields and used as manure. I was told also of one case where
the owner of such land used as manure the organic black soil collected
from the crevices in the limestone rock with excellent results. The
principal crop seen on this type of soil was maize, though I was
informed that tomatoes are also cultivated on such land with the aid
of fertilisers. Onions also seem to thrive well on these white lands.
Animal Husbandry.-On certain of the islands there is a fairly
flourishing livestock industry. On the islands visited this was seen
both on Great and Little Exuma and also on Long Island, though
on all the islands goats and poultry are kept as a domestic industry.
As far as goats and sheep are concerned, the former are of the type
commonly seen in the coastal districts of West Africa and presumably
they were brought over from there at the time of the slave trade.
The original sheep also appear to have come from West Africa and
are of the type of the large hairy sheep which one associates with the
dry regions of West Africa, though the introduction of South Down
rams by the Board of Agriculture in recent years has rather altered
the type. The cattle, however, do not show any West African blood
and are a mixed lot, containing Channel Island, Friesland and other
European strains. Both on the Exuma islands and on Long Island
the countryside is divided into large paddocks, enclosed partly by
the remains of old stone walls, and partly by brushwood fencing, and
in these the stock are allowed to browse. When herbage becomes

scarce in one paddock the animals are moved to a fresh paddock, while
at long intervals a paddock is closed to grazing and the bush is cleared
for cultivation, both by the owner of the estate and his servants and
tenants. Considerable emphasis is laid on the value of the animal
droppings while the paddocks are used for browsing in maintaining
the fertility of the soil.
A very considerable local knowledge has been accumulated by these
graziers as to the value of different herbage plants as feed for livestock
and very great value is placed on the Jumbie tree (Leucaena glauca),
for all types of stock which chew the cud, but though greedily eaten
by horses, donkeys and mules, these animals are said to lose the hair
on their tails and manes if they eat this, while if they are not checked,
a sort of paralysis of the hindquarters follows. There is little doubt
as to the truth of this belief as it has been mentioned from other
parts of the world. Except in Exuma there is very little pasturage
except browsing, and though this is also the mainstay of Exuma
there appears to be much more ground herbage here. One of the
most important plants is what is known as bugweed," of which
there appears to be two forms--one which grows erect and the other
procumbent. This plant somewhat resembles a small lucerne in
appearance and has been considered to be Stylosanthes hamata, or S.
procumbens of the West Indies. Some idea of the precariousness of
these grazing lands can be gained when it is stated that seed of the
" nut grass" (Cyperus rotundus) is actually collected and sown in
damp hollows to supplement natural grazing. It is interesting to
note also that seeds of other wild plants such as Leucaena glauca are
collected and sown in cultivated clearings to try to improve the
browsing when the bush again springs up after cultivation has
Though the flocks on Long Island are all small, some of those on
the Exumas run to several hundred. No attention is paid to seasonal
breeding and the rams are allowed to run with the flocks throughout
the year. Thus, lambs of all ages are to be seen. It is interesting
also to see the effect of the introduction of the wool-bearing rams and
the splitting up of the progeny into woolly and hairy lambs.
Personally, I consider that it is a mistake to introduce blood of
temperate breeds of livestock into the tropical climate of these
islands, especially when one considers the type and quantity of the
grazing available. The hardier hairy sheep of the old world tropics
seem much more suitable to local conditions where no use whatsoever

is made of the wool. This is generally scanty and is simply allowed
to drop off. The Zebu type of cattle which have been so successfully
introduced into Jamaica and other West Indian islands are eminently
suited to the conditions here. The cattle of Porto Rico have a
considerable mixture of African blood in them of the type or breed
which one sees in the Gambia and in Sierra Leone and they are
infinitely superior to anything which I was able to see in the Bahamas.
General.-This account of the agriculture of these islands and of the
failure, one after the other, of most of the economic crops which have
been tried, always brings one back to the primitive type of fugitive
cultivation which is practised on the black soils." The present
industry of tomato cultivation can also be looked upon as ephemeral;
for it is largely dependent on the accumulations of organic matter
which are made during the resting period when the land reverts to
bush. As this cultivation extends it means more frequent clearing
and less additions to the soil fertility, while the volume of soil in
the rock crevices, consisting as it does mainly of humus, will with
more frequent exposure tend to disappear further down in the rock
The Bahamas are fortunate in a climate which should be capable
of producing a large number of valuable crops, but unfortunately the
soil covering is so extremely thin that unless soils are actually made
and built up the advantages of the climate and the industry of the
people are of little avail. For the small type of cultivator there does
not seem to be any reason why terraced land should not be built
up just as is being done by the people of the Canary Islands. One
can see the possibilities of this to some extent in the gardens of Nassau,
where soil from elsewhere has been collected, brought in and planted
up behind terrace walls. Such gardens frequently show luxurious
growth and there seems to be no reason why similar methods should
not be adopted for making land suitable for market gardening. It
seems probable also that much more could be made of the "white
lands than is done at the present day. These as they exist are
certainly precarious. They are very porous and are naturally
deficient in plant food. Organic matter in the shape of seaweed,
stable manure and town sweepings are used at the present time,
while cave earth is applied as a fertilizer and these assist in enabling
the ground to retain moisture for crop production. But considerably
more than this is needed and there seems to be no reason why black
soil should not be collected from the areas which are too rocky to

warrant their being cultivated and mixed with this sand, while
recent bush growth could be cut, composted and used as a manure.
The cultivation of quick-growing green manure crops such as some
of the Crotolarias or of deep-rooted green manure crops such as
various Mucunas, Tephrosias, Dolichos lablab, etc., would, if they were
turned in, add greatly to the moisture holding properties of this
land. It is quite possible if soils were built up in this way that winter
vegetables for the markets of North America would be sufficiently
profitable to warrant the extensive use of fertilisers which would
supply the plant food required to bring these to perfection. On
"white lands near Nassau, one of the large hotels in Nassau has
developed its own vegetable gardens, where several kinds of vegetables
such as onions, beetroot, carrots, aubergines and sweet peppers are
raised successfully. The crops are grown with the aid of fertilisers
and green manure crops of soy beans or cowpeas are grown for
turning in.

Another method of adding to the soil resources of these islands has
been suggested and that is the adoption of a practice which is carried
out in the Dade County of Florida. This is known as scarifying."
In this part of Florida the conditions closely resemble that seen in
the pine barrens" of New Providence. There is little else but a
broken rock surface of soft limestone to be seen. The operation
consists of dragging a heavy harrow armed with about eight to ten
teeth through this rock until a rubbly soil is made by a process of
mechanical attrition. The scarifier" which I saw working in
Florida weighed, so I was told, 9 tons, and was drawn by a heavy
steam engine. The teeth, which were made of square bar steel,
were about 4 inches in thickness and set so that the cutting edge
sloped forward. This, combined with the weight of the machine,
enabled the teeth to grip the rock surface. When first taken on to
the area to be dealt with, the teeth are set to work at a depth of
2 inches. The land is then crossworked at the same depth. After
that the teeth are lowered to work at a depth of 4 inches and also
crossworked. By the time this land has been worked and cross-
worked four or five times there is formed a rubbly soil in which fruit
trees are planted. Sometimes the same machine is again worked
when the teeth on one side of the harrow are removed. This tends
to throw the rubble into low wide ridges on which the fruit trees are
planted. It is surprising what a large amount of soil seems to appear
from nowhere. The orchards that I saw in Florida planted on land

of this description consisted mainly of grafted avocado and, to a
much lesser extent, of citrus and mango. Most of these orchards,
however, were young and it was not possible to say what the life
of these trees would be, though I also saw several old plantations of
such trees which had been planted in these rocks before this process
of scarifying had been developed. In these latter the planting holes
for the trees had been blasted out of the rock. I was told that where
the land was scarified the trees sent their roots out in all directions,
and that the plants had a much better roothold than when planted
in blasted holes. In the latter case the whole tree is apt to be blown
out of the ground in hurricanes and the roots are observed to be
concentrated entirely in the hole made by blasting. Very little
damage, however, seemed to have been done by the 1926 hurricane,
especially in the case of avocados. These are all grafted trees and
instead of forming one main stem, as does the seedling tree, these
grafted trees produce three or four stems which are given off close to
the ground and thus do not offer nearly so much resistance to gales.
Whether similar orchards could profitably be made in similar rock
formations in the Bahamas is a marketing question on which I have
not sufficient knowledge to form an opinion. The cost of preparing
the ground is from about 25 to 40 per acre, according to the hardness
of the rock. On the flint rock formation, which is general on the
islands which I visited and is common also in New Providence, it
would probably be out of the question altogether. I saw a private
pleasure garden on Hog Island just outside Nassau, where this flint-
rock" occurred which had been scarifiedd." The cost was
estimated at over 80 per acre and the work had only been rendered
possible at all by dynamiting the rock surface at 4-feet intervals
before the scarifiers were brought on to the field. Even then large
boulders of limestone rock had to be removed from the ground.
Should such work be contemplated, where rock conditions appear
to be suitable, it would be necessary to make detailed enquiry into
markets and tariffs. Thus, in the case of avocado pears, would these
be permitted into the United States ?-and if so, is there any danger
of a protective tariff being raised against their importation ? Are
there other accessible markets which would appreciate this fruit ?
As regards citrus fruits, there is not much chance of these being allowed
into the States as long as the blue-grey fly exists on the islands,
but there may be some scope for their being marketed in Canada.
In any case, a considerable capital would be required to form an
orchard capable of giving a livelihood and this would in all probability

be beyond the reach of the peasant cultivator. If such a plantation
were developed by capital enterprise the amount of work which an
orchard would provide would be very small for the capital and
recurring expenditure involved, while in both cases the risk from
hurricane damage would be incurred. While in Dade County I saw
" scarified" land being utilised for the cultivation of annual crops
such as sweet peppers, tomatoes and beans, and draught implements
were being employed to work such land. The scarified soil was more
in the nature of a matrix to hold the moisture and manure. The
crops are fed mainly by the application of fertilisers. I had a long
talk with the owner of one such farm or small holding and he was of
the opinion that there was money to be made out of it, especially
in winter vegetables, as this part of Florida is outside the frost belt.
He was not, however, solely dependent on this holding as he had
other lands as well on the marl soils which occur in that neighbourhood,
besides which he had water for irrigation, if necessary.
The State Department of Agriculture in Florida are now laying out
an Experiment Station on scarified land in Dade County and it
is probable that the Bahamas will be able to benefit by the results
of work that will be done here.
The Imperial Institute suggests that before any expenditure is
incurred on "scarifying" the "pine barren" rock in the Bahamas,
samples of this rock should be sent there for examination. Soil
samples from both Eleuthera and Cat Island show appreciable
quantities of copper and there is a possibility that this might be
present in this pine barren rock in sufficient quantity to render
the resulting soil infertile for many crops.

The authorities in the Bahamas and their Legislature have not
been altogether unmindful of the needs of agriculture in the past and
present. For very many years there was a Board of Agriculture and
this survives in a form which has official recognition to the present
day in the Agricultural and Marine Products Board. This Board
works under a president and has an official in charge, while it also
employs an officer who used to be foreman under Mr. Cunningham
as Agricultural Instructor. Its main functions are those of inspection

and control of diseases, but besides this it purchases agricultural and
garden seeds as well as sprays and sprayers which it sells to the
public. For a few years a Botanic Station was in existence under
the charge of Mr. Cunningham, who was Curator, but apparently
the post and the garden were abolished some 15 years ago. This
officer seems to have done good work and evidently gave a consider-
able impetus to the agricultural development of the out-islands. At
the present time, on several of the out-islands, school teachers are
employed who are also called Agricultural Instructors. These
officers, who have been recruited in the West Indies, have charge
of school gardens attached to the schools. Recently the House of
Assembly have sanctioned expenditure for the appointment of a
qualified Agricultural Officer, who, if he is given opportunities to
carry out experimental trials, should prove of great value to the
islands, as there appears to be ample work awaiting to be done.

Crop Improvement and Plant Introduction.--I consider that
the question of growing vegetables for the winter market
should be seriously considered and developed. At this time of
the year Canada, which provides a market free from tariffs for
Bahama produce, and which at the same time has provided a steam-
ship service having the most modern cool storage arrangements, is
unable to grow winter vegetables for itself and has to depend either
on cold storage or on imports from outside its territories. When
it is considered that Florida annually grows winter vegetables to the
value of some $40,000,000 for the markets of the United States,
there seems no reason why the Bahamas should not find in Canada
a ready market for what she can produce. To do this, however,
means a considerable amount of research work. The black soils,
occurring as they do chiefly in the crevices of the limestone rock,
are incapable of being brought under permanent cropping, as they
soon lose their substance and fertility, and the question of building
up terraced soil and of improving the white lands needs careful
investigation. Such soils must be made more retentive of moisture,
and in a country where irrigation is not possible the growth of green
manure crops will play an important part in their maintenance.
In Florida this work of trying out new species of plants as green
manure crops is considered of such importance, that the work is

and control of diseases, but besides this it purchases agricultural and
garden seeds as well as sprays and sprayers which it sells to the
public. For a few years a Botanic Station was in existence under
the charge of Mr. Cunningham, who was Curator, but apparently
the post and the garden were abolished some 15 years ago. This
officer seems to have done good work and evidently gave a consider-
able impetus to the agricultural development of the out-islands. At
the present time, on several of the out-islands, school teachers are
employed who are also called Agricultural Instructors. These
officers, who have been recruited in the West Indies, have charge
of school gardens attached to the schools. Recently the House of
Assembly have sanctioned expenditure for the appointment of a
qualified Agricultural Officer, who, if he is given opportunities to
carry out experimental trials, should prove of great value to the
islands, as there appears to be ample work awaiting to be done.

Crop Improvement and Plant Introduction.--I consider that
the question of growing vegetables for the winter market
should be seriously considered and developed. At this time of
the year Canada, which provides a market free from tariffs for
Bahama produce, and which at the same time has provided a steam-
ship service having the most modern cool storage arrangements, is
unable to grow winter vegetables for itself and has to depend either
on cold storage or on imports from outside its territories. When
it is considered that Florida annually grows winter vegetables to the
value of some $40,000,000 for the markets of the United States,
there seems no reason why the Bahamas should not find in Canada
a ready market for what she can produce. To do this, however,
means a considerable amount of research work. The black soils,
occurring as they do chiefly in the crevices of the limestone rock,
are incapable of being brought under permanent cropping, as they
soon lose their substance and fertility, and the question of building
up terraced soil and of improving the white lands needs careful
investigation. Such soils must be made more retentive of moisture,
and in a country where irrigation is not possible the growth of green
manure crops will play an important part in their maintenance.
In Florida this work of trying out new species of plants as green
manure crops is considered of such importance, that the work is

financed by the Federal Department of Agriculture, which also collects
and supplies the trial station with seed of various leguminous plants.
Of these, Crotolaria striata is now commonly grown, but there are
several strains of this under trial at Gainsville, some of which appear
distinctly better than the one now in general cultivation. Crotolaria
spectabilis and C. grantiana are also promising, while there are several
species of Tephrosia which may prove of value. It may be that there
are other plants useful as green manure crops which might be found
superior when grown on these calcareous soils. As to what vegetable
crops can be -grown profitably must be a matter for experiment.
There seems to be no doubt, however, that sweet peppers, pumpkins,
carrots, beetroot and parsley, as well as tomatoes and onions, all
grow well, and the attached Handbook for Florida Growers and
Shippers summarises much useful information as to the supply
and demand for different vegetables as well as information regarding
varieties and methods of packing, etc. This may be useful in the
Bahamas if work of this nature is contemplated.
The question and importance of terracing land could in the first
place best be studied in countries where this system of land reclamation
is practised, and probably the Canary Islands offer the best example
of the building up of the land by the industry of the people. The
market gardening methods practised in the Canaries might also be
studied with advantage. I suggest that the Agricultural Officer
should be given an opportunity of visiting the Canary Islands after
he has seen the conditions in the Bahamas, but before he actually
commences his work there.
I have already indicated a line of enquiry regarding the possibility
of reviving a pineapple industry and I consider that this should be
followed up, renting, if necessary, a suitable area where the work
can be undertaken. This might be put under the direct charge of
one of the school Agricultural Instructors on Eleuthera Island, who
would work under the guidance of the Agricultural Officer.
In the matter of plant introduction there is a large field of work.
Apart from the trial of varieties of vegetables, etc., which might be
found not only suitable for the soil and climatic conditions of these
islands but would also be amenable to transport conditions, and at the
same time would suit the requirements of the markets which they cater
for, there is a considerable scope for the trial of crops and varieties
of crops which would assist existing agricultural practice. Varieties

of existing food crops are at the present time extremely limited and
though some attention has in the past been given to improving this
phase of agricultural production, I consider that there is still much
to be done; for though I emphasise the importance of permanent
farming for the production of vegetables, the people will still have to
depend largely, as they do now, on these black soils for the cultivation
of their food crops.
Varieties of tropical maize should be tried and I suggest that local
varieties from Corosal in British Honduras should be obtained. The
" Lagos white maize, which is a type of flour corn, is also worthy
of trial, and so also is the bread corn or bread mealie of South Africa.
The cultivation of these latter varieties might lead to the substitution
in part of corn flour for wheat flour in the diet of the people, in the
same way that it is used by the Dutch in South Africa. There
appear to be only two varieties of Guinea corn grown on the out-
islands, and both of these are long duration varieties which take
from 51 to 6 months to mature. Some of the short duration varieties,
such as Feterita" from the Sudan, are well worth trying, while
there are a number of varieties having a loose pannicle in West
Africa which may prove superior to those now under cultivation.
Varieties of Pennisetum spicatum might also be tried. This cereal is
not so exhaustive to the soil as is Guinea corn and many varieties
are as early as or earlier than maize in maturing. The common
white bean (Phaseolus lunatus), which is grown on all the islands, is
a small-seeded variety, and it is possible that the larger-seeded
varieties, such as the Madagascar bean and the variety in general
cultivation in Sierra Leone, would thrive equally well when they have
become acclimatised. If grown on a sufficiently large scale they
are, moreover, much more valuable.
Varieties of cowpeas might also be tried. Many of these are very
sensitive to the time of sowing and periodic sowings to find out their
possibilities are advisable. There is a great difference in the time
of maturity of different races of the pigeon pea and seed of some of
the Eastern races might be obtained.
These are all staple food crops of the people and any improvement
of variety which will make for better yields or more certain cropping
would be of great value, especially on the out-islands which are
almost entirely dependent on their own resources for their food

As regards pasturage, which is important on certain of the out-
islands, there are opportunities of improving this during the time
when these pastures are under crop. The island of Exuma seems to
offer scope for such improvement and it would be well worth while
to try and establish Pennisetum cenchroides, sowing this along with
the food crops which are grown. This grass with its bulbous rootstock
is not only very drought resistant, but has remarkable recuperative
powers, giving a strong flush of growth after light showers. It is
a grass, moreover, which thrives naturally on limestone soils.
As regards permanent crops it is difficult to advise, since tree
crops are so liable to hurricane damage, but I consider that Coffea
stenophylla from Sierra Leone is a hardy species worth trying, for it
yields a coffee of excellent quality. This coffee will thrive under
very poor soil conditions and it may be found to thrive on these
limestone soils. Until the Agricultural Officer is given facilities to
carry out experimental work, however, there is little chance of
successfully introducing fresh crops and varieties.

Livestock.-I have already commented on the type of sheep and
cattle which are produced on these islands. It is possible that more
might be done with goats, especially if some of the tropical and
sub-tropical milking breeds were introduced. The low bush growth
on these islands forms an ideal type of food for this class of livestock
and a fresh milk supply would be appreciated on the out-islands.
Efforts in this direction have apparently met with success in Jamaica.
Poultry farming is a branch of agriculture which I consider should
also be developed. The value of imports of poultry produce amounts
to about 10,000 a year, and local supplies are quite inadequate to
meet the demand both in quantity and quality: both eggs and fowls
are small. Better breeds, better housing and more sanitary sur-
roundings would make this a profitable industry, especially if chickens
were hatched at the right time to meet the seasonal winter demand
for eggs and poultry. Such an industry should suit the less accessible
of the out-islands, which are unable adequately to market fresh
produce. Much of the food required by this class of livestock could
be produced on the islands themselves. The value of imports of
poultry products does not, I imagine, represent what would be the
consumption if more reasonable prices were charged, and this type
of food must now be a luxury to a large portion of the people of

Nassau. Demonstration poultry pens might form a useful adjunct
to school gardens, especially if by this means pupils' poultry clubs
could be started and better types of birds be introduced.
School Gardens.-If possible, it is advisable that these should come
under the control of the Agricultural Officer. The teachers in charge
of these are all supposed to have had a training in agriculture, and
there is no doubt that though some of them are doing useful work,
but their efforts need guidance as to their objects and as to the type of
plants that should be grown and the type of agriculture aimed at.
In time such teachers might have charge of demonstration plots
showing improved methods of agricultural practice; for owing to
the scattered nature of the populations and the lack of means of
transport on many of these islands, such demonstration plots would
be difficult to maintain without such help. It would also tend to
show to the parents of the pupils in the schools that the work done
by their children in the school gardens has a direct bearing on the
agricultural problems and difficulties with which they have to contend.
Markets and Marketing.-At the present time Nassau is the only
existing market for the ordinary produce of the islands. Tomatoes
are an exception, as the trade is organised and financed by American
produce houses, who not only supply seed, fertilisers, crates and
packing materials as an advance of the crop, but organise the sales
within the United States of America.
Other agricultural produce has to meet competition on the Nassau
market from the United States of America and Cuba, and, as pointed
out by the Colonial Secretary in his memorandum on Agriculture
in the Bahamas," this import trade is organised and the produce
graded. It is not only a question of quality but one of ensuring
regular supplies.
With few exceptions, agricultural produce is grown on such a
small scale on the Islands that there should be no need to look to
outside markets until the requirements of the Nassau market have
been satisfied. It is natural, however, that merchants should look
to regular supplies of graded and marketable produce rather than to
the irregular supplies of mixed quality which come in from the Islands.
Unless, therefore, the marketing of island produce can be organised,
the present state of affairs is likely to continue. In the first place,
it seems essential that the Islands should let the market know what

they have to dispose of. Secondly, they should grade their produce
so that it can compete with that which is imported. Thirdly, the
islanders must be prepared to accept prices which are not above
those at which imported produce can be purchased; and fourthly,
the Islands should be informed of stocks in the markets and of
expected receipts from elsewhere.

To ensure this I would suggest that it might be possible for the
Island Commissioners to furnish periodic returns showing crop areas
and forecasts of yields, which could be published either in the press
or as supplements to the Gazette from time to time. This would
mean a certain amount of co-operation between the Islanders and
the Commissioners, but it would be much simplified if Settlement
Co-operative Associations could be organised and formed. Similarly,
information could be furnished to such associations as to the state
of the market, and this information could be regularly furnished by
wireless through the Island Commissioners. A somewhat similar
system has been developed in Bermuda, where growers are informed
through the Agricultural Department of the requirements of overseas
markets, the information being furnished by cable by their brokers
at these markets. Grading and packing for the requirements of the
market would be developed through such Co-operative Associations
through the aid of the Agricultural Officer, who should also be in a
position to arrange for the inspection of consignments, when they
reached Nassau, in order to ensure that grades and grading were
properly maintained. As to how sales at Nassau would be effected
is a matter for local arrangement. If such a trade became worth
while it would be in the interests of commission agents to do the best
they could for their clients, or it may be that open auctions would prove
more satisfactory. Such Settlement Co-operative Associations could
also be employed for the distribution of seed, fertilisers, packing
materials, etc. I understand that as regards the present production
of tomatoes this is confined only to fairly large growers, as the
produce houses which finance this cultivation find it easier to deal
with a few large growers than with a number of small peasant
cultivators. If the peasant growers were organised this objection
would not arise. In this connection I would emphasise the necessity
for working these associations in small communities where all the
members are acquainted with each other and their affairs. This has
been found essential elsewhere, where credit-whether in the shape
of money or of advances in the shape of seed, fertilisers, etc.-is

granted to individual members. The necessity for having such
societies with unlimited liability need not be emphasised where such
loans are made. The members will soon realise their responsibilities
in granting individual loans when they know that they are collectively
liable in case of default. As a start has already been made in the
island of New Providence with the formation of such associations,
a perusal of Bulletin No. 17 of the Department of Agriculture, Gold
Coast, might be of value. This is a report by Mr. A. W. Paterson
on his deputation to India and Ceylon to study the experience in
co-operation in those countries.
It is presumed that the Agricultural Officer will have much to do
with the organisation and formation of these associations and they
should in time form a valuable link between the results of his research
work and the everyday problems which confront the producer.
To gain a sound footing on the local market and thus ensure a
sale for island produce should be the first objective and this will
pave the way for the establishment of an export trade. In fact,
the possibility of an export trade should be borne in mind from the
beginning, for it would be fatal if a promising crop were to glut the
Nassau market when there was not at the same time an outlet by
export. For this reason alone grading and packing should receive
attention from the commencement. One does not want to see a
promising industry killed as was the case with the growing of onions
in 1908.
With regard to the export trade, it will be an essential for the
Bahamas to work in close co-operation with other islands of the
British West Indies and with Bermuda. None of these islands are
large enough to stand by themselves and it is necessary that there
should be standard methods of grading, packing and marking
produce if these are to attract proper attention in the buying markets.
Further, I understand that as far as Canada is concerned, there
already exists some form of sale organisation and there is a
service which supplies information as to ruling prices and market

In spite of the seemingly unfavourable natural condition which
prevails in the Bahamas, one cannot help being struck by the keenness
and anxiety shown by the people, especially on the out-islands, to

improve and develop their agriculture. This is the more amazing,
considering the failure of so many seemingly established industries
in the past and the discouragement engendered by the uncertainty
of being able to sell produce on the Nassau market.
Imports of foodstuffs into the Bahamas should be sufficient merely
to supplement local supplies and should not oust the latter from the
market. The motto of one of the local newspapers is Bahamas for
the Bahamians," and if this were put into practice with regard to
the purchase of agricultural produce it would not only be a great
incentive to further progress, but it would circulate money within
the colony itself instead of allowing so much to leave the Islands
to pay for what can and what should in time be produced locally.
Much agricultural research is required in order to put agriculture
on a sure foundation and there will be the need for considerable
demonstration of the results of such research to bring this to the
notice of the farmer. Such work, however, needs money and it
may be necessary to provide the necessary financial assistance for
this work to be undertaken. Without such research there can be
little real progress. The Agricultural Officer may be able to make
recommendations, but he must be able to establish the value of his
recommendations by means of experiment and demonstrations, and
further, he will have to prove to himself and to the farmer that what
he recommends and what he demonstrates is financially sound in
Besides this money will be required on loan for the financing of
agricultural co-operation. If the money is to be recovered in due
course it means that these associations, in their initial stages, will
have to be carefully nursed so that they may be developed on the
right lines.
Money will also be required for the establishment of an export
trade in agricultural produce. In the shipment of trial consignments
of produce there will probably be failures owing to errors in packing
or inattention to market requirements in the preparation and grading
of produce; and in the first instance, no doubt, trial consignments
will seldom find a satisfactory sale, owing to the mark or brand of
that particular commodity being unknown. These are difficulties
which will in time be overcome, but in the first instance it may be
necessary to finance such undertakings until an established market
is assured.

I feel sure, therefore, that if adequate financial assistance can be
given to the new Agricultural Department, the will of the people to
work and their desire to improve their position will go a long way
towards establishing a permanent form of profitable agriculture in
the Bahamas.
September, 1930.

Imperial Institute,
London, S.W.7.


After careful consideration of the present position of sisal hemp production in the
Bahamas and the suggested introduction of special implements or machinery for
extracting the fibre, it was agreed that, until a suitable machine had been found, it
would be better to leave the people to the methods to which they are accustomed,
since it would be difficult to induce them to alter their present system, which gives
an occupation to the women and children. An effort should be made, however, to
improve the existing methods, involving retting in salt water, and to establish a
central station where the fibre could be dried, brushed, pressed and baled. Proper
baling would result in a saving of freight charges. Similar recommendations which
were made in connection with Mauritius hemp have proved of great advantage to
the industry in that Island, and there seems no reason why similar benefits should
not accrue to the sisal industry of the Bahamas.
Retted Bahamas sisal cannot be used for binder twine owing to the presence of
salt, but it is suitable for small lines and low grade cordage where good colour is
required. The fibre, as prepared by the present method of retting in salt water,
might thus find a special market of its own.
In order to eliminate black patches of tissue in the retted fibre all leaves affected
by disease or mechanical injury should be discarded. Care should be taken that the
leaves are sufficiently retted but not over-retted and the Agricultural Officer should
impress the importance of this on the people. By carrying out such improvements
the value of the crop would be increased.
The fibre might be graded as follows :-Grade 1, fibre over 30 inches long; Grade 2,
fibre of from 20 to 30 inches ; fibre below 20 inches should be passed through a carding
machine and sold as tow.
The variation in colour of Bahamas sisal is due not only to variation in the degree
of retting but may also be caused by the fibre being left for some time in a wet state
instead of being quickly dried.
It is thought that Bahamas sisal, if properly cleaned, brushed, dried and baled,
would realise approximately the following prices (November, 1930) :-Grade No. 1,
about 10/15 per cent. below No. 2 East African, 5/10 per cent. below Mexican white;
Grade No. 2, about 15/20 per cent. below No. 2 East African, or 10/15 per cent. below
Mexican white. The tow would, of course, be less valuable than East African sisal
tow owing to the presence of salt, but the approximate value would be 10/15 per cent.
below No. 1 East African sisal tow.
The comparison with Mexican white would, of course, vary with fluctuations in
the ratio of the latter fibre to African.

The existing Ordinance, which allows of voluntary inspection, can be of little value,
and it is the Committee's unanimous opinion that strict and compulsory grading by
a responsible Government Produce Inspector is essential if the Bahamas are to regain
a profitable position in the fibre market. If this is agreeable to the Bahamas
Government, the Committee considers that:-
(1) The Government inspection should be placed under the control of the
Agricultural Officer. The work of improving Bahamas sisal must commence in the
field and in the preparation of the fibre before it reaches the market. It is essential,
therefore, that there should be the closest collaboration between the two ends of the
industry. It is for this reason that this recommendation is made. This system of
control has been adopted in all Colonies where the work of produce inspection has
been developed and remarkable results have been achieved, particularly in the West
African Dependencies, where the produce is the result of peasant and small scale
(2) If compulsory grading can be established, it is essential that standard grades
should be formed and the Committee would willingly co-operate in the making of
these standards, if so desired.
(3) As a corollary to compulsory grading the Committee is strongly of opinion that
the Bahamas Government should establish a Central Sisal Market in Nassau and that,
supplementary to the market, it should undertake the following work:-
(a) Drying consignments received. It is understood that consignments
arriving from the out-islands are frequently wetted by sea water in transit and
it is necessary that these should be dried before they can be treated and sold.
In any case, a uniform dryness of the fibre is necessary.
(b) Arrange for centralised cleaning and brushing. This should be done
before the fibre is graded. The undesirable practice of cutting out portions of
defective strands should be abandoned as it results in short, unspinnable fibre;
such, in fact all, defective fibre should be baled and marketed as rejections.
(c) Arrange for a centralised carding machine for the preparation of tow from
fibre which is too short for grading.
(d) Arrange for centralised baling. There would be a considerable saving of
freight if bales could be pressed to 80 cubic feet per ton and the fibre would be
better received if bales were uniform and did not weigh more than 5 cwt. Better
packing to suit the convenience of potential markets might widen the range of
markets for Bahamas sisal.
If the Bahamas Government is agreeable to these suggestions, the Committee is
in a position to furnish specifications and could obtain estimates of costs of the
installation of the necessary machines required. In this connection the possibility
of using electric power, if available, might be borne in mind.
In conclusion, the Committee wishes to emphasise the importance of demonstration
among the growers, in the care and maintenance of their plantations, in the rejection
of damaged leaves when cutting, in the initial grading of leaves on the field for retting

and in the retting process itself. The quality is dependent on all these factors. It
is further strongly recommended that the Agricultural Officer, after he is appointed,
should spend a few weeks in England, where he could acquire knowledge both at the
Imperial Institute and with those concerned with the sale and manufacture of sisal
in this country. Members of the Committee who are concerned with these aspects
of the industry and who have experience of Bahamas sisal, have expressed their
willingness to render this Officer such assistance.

18th November, 1930.


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appointed by the Empire Marketing Board .. .. .. .. 6d. (7d.)
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Out of print.
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Production and Trade of the Dominion of New Zealand.

,, Ceylon.
,, the Dominion of Canada.
S the Dominion of Newfoundland.
the Indian Empire.
,, the Union of South Africa.
,, Kenya and Uganda.
,, Zanzibar.
,, Nyasaland.
Northern Rhodesia.
,, Southern Rhodesia.
,, Australia.
Irish Free State.
Sierra Leone.

,, Gold Coast.

Price 2d. each net (3d. including postage.)


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(Cmd. 3018) .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 6d. (7d.)
and 1925 to 1928 .. .. .. .. .. .. 6d. (7d.)
Seventeenth Report. PROGRESS REPORT, 1930 .. .. .. .. 6d. (7d.)

6d. (8d.)
6d. (8d.)


Cmd. 2493.
Cmd. 2499.
Cmd. 2658.
Cmd. 2725.
Cmd. 2934.
Cmd. 3015.

First Report. GENERAL
Second Report. MEAT
Third Report. FRUIT
Fourth Report. DAIRY PRODUCE
Fifth Report. FISH..
Sixth and Seventh Reports. Pot

Cmd. 3168. Ninth Report. TOBACCO
Cmd. 3175. Tenth Report. TIMBER
Sixteenth Report. HIDES AND SKINS
Eighteenth Report. TEA ..

9d. (lOd.)
.. .. 9d. (lod.)
4s. 6d. (4s. 10d.)
s. Od. (Is. 2d.)
6d. (8d.)
Is. Od. (Is. 2d.)
9d. (lOd.)
9d. (l0d.)
6d. (8d.)
6d. (7d.)
6d. (8d.)

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