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In presenting to the members of the Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Society the Transactions during the first year of its existence, it is due to its members to say, that the First Annual Meeting took place under circumstances of peculiar depression to the agricultural interests of the islands. Under the influence of an active demand, and high prices for the staples of the islands, during the years 1849–5), the hopes of the planters had been raised to a high point, and anticipations for the future, based upon the continuance of those prices and that demand, were of the most brilliant character.
Unfortunately, for a few months before the Annual Meeting, the causes which had operated so favorably upon those interests, ceased to exert their influence. Demand was limited, and prices were not remunerative. The planters, generally, and all that class of agriculturists, not properly called planters, but who depended upon the productions of the soil, in all their variety, felt a degree of solicitude and were so much occupied with their own anxieties that they could not devote the time and attention necessary to drawing up reports, or to preparing contributions for the Exhibition.
It is hoped that these causes will not continue to operate, but that all the committees, officers, and members of the society, will, in future years, make a special effort to contribute, for the information of the society, all the facts, which, although they may appear of trivial importance in themselves, will yet be of value, as the result of actual experience, to those who are still prosecuting their enterprises under the disadvantages of a lack of practical knowledge.
ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.
The society met on Monday, August 11th at 10 o'clock, A. M., in pursuance of adjournment last year ; the President, Hon. William L. LEE, in the chair.
After reading the proceedings of the last session of the society in 1850, the president submitted a brief report of the proceedings of the society during the year, which was as follows:
Gentlemen :-Agreeably with the ninth article of our constitution, in which it is made my duty on this occasion to render an account of the proceedings of our society for the current year, 1 beg to submit the following report.
One of the most important subjects brought before the society for its consideration, has been that of labor. Under the present system of agriculture in these islands, there is nothing that offers so great an obstacle to success, as the want of a sufficient number of good, faithful laborers. Every plantation requires from thirty to one hundred men, in constant employment, and the impossibility of obtaining the requisite number, has been to many, a serious injury, to others, almost absolute ruin.
To remedy this evil, to a certain extent, the committee on labor, consisting of Messrs. R. W. Wood, J. F. B. Marshall, and Stephen Reynolds, immediately after the last meeting, entered into a contract for the hiring of two hundred Chinese coolies to be delivered in Honolulu, and advanced between nine and ten thousand dollars to ensure their speedy and safe transportation. Unfortunately, the coolies have not arrived, and the experiment of introducing laborers from China, yet
remains to be tested. More labor we must have ; and it is clear that we cannot depend upon the islands for an increase. It only remains then, for us to look abroad ; and I am happy to inform you that a new enterprise to procure coolies is under way, which it is confidently believed will not, like the first, prove a failure. Another branch of this subject of great importance, is the economy of labor. This must be accomplished inainly by the introduction of new and improved implements and machines-new modes of cultivation, and a proper and systematic division of our labor. The division of labor in all the arts is found to be of the greatest value, and the same principle holds good in respect to agriculture. I have no doubt that by a judicious division of labor ; by the assigning of certain kinds of work to different classes of operatives, our sugar and coffee planters would save one fifth of all their expenses. It is painful to observe throughout the islands, the general want of system in all our agricultural labors. Our operations are irregular ; our implements in many respects unsuitable ; and our machinery, especially our sugar mills, rude and insufficient. In this respect we have not kept pace with our cultivation, and at the present time, I am told there are hundreds of acres of cane going to decay for the want of sufficient machinery to grind and manufacture it into sugar. This is a sad spectacle, and calls for prompt reform. Our little wooden mills—what are they? A constant aggravation-a screeching nuisance. In many respects some of our boiling houses are but little better. While prices were high, our planters were enabled to make money, notwithstanding these rude structures ; but they will not meet the demands of the future. It will be answered “We have not the capital to remedy this evil.” This is true, and I deeply mourn the fact ; but nevertheless, the deficiency must be supplied in some way, either by increased industry and economy, or by importation from abroad, else the cultivation of our fields will be in vain. The whole subject of the economy of labor, by the improvements of our machinery, our implements, and otherwise, has occupied the attention of the Board of Managers to some extent, and yet little advance has been made in this line, beyond the exertions of individual members of the society. Horses and mules, ploughs and cultivators have, to a considerable extent, taken the place of the native and his hoe, and it is hoped that this reform will speedily become more general.
The introduction of new seeds and plants, and of extended information respecting agriculture, has received a large share of consideration. Several boxes of seeds have been received and gratuitously distributed, and the amount of two hundred and seventy dollars has been sent abroad for agricultural books and periodicals. Some of these works are on their way, while others, of much value, have already arrived, and are now in the hands of our corresponding secretary.
One of the most important interests under the care of the society, is that of grazing. Our high lands are peculiarly well adapted to pasturage ; and I doubt if the graziers in any part of the world have been more successful than in these islands. With no winters to contend against, their labors are comparatively light—the increase of their flocks certain and rapid--and the owner of a small herd is sure, with a reasonable degree of care and attention, to become wealthy in a few years. Beyond question the raising of cattle, bas, thus far, been the most successful pursuit connected with the soil, yet undertaken in the islands. The several members of our committees on neat cattle, horses, sheep and swine, have made creditable exertions to improve our stock, by the purchase of animals imported from the British Colonies and the United States, and, I trust, our exhibition of animals will show, with some success. It is a source of great pleasure to me to be able to say, that some of our best graziers have begun to introduce the English and American system of penning and domesticating our cattle, and training them for labor and the dairy. This is the commencement of a must desirable reform, and I hope ere many years, to witness the entire abolition of the brutal old Spanish system, of hunting our cattle to death with the horse and lasso. Another great evil, in connection with this subject, both as it regards graziers and planters, is the overstocking of our pastures, and the almost universal want of fences. Instead of keeping our herds reduced to a reasonable number, they are in some instances allowed to increase to an alarming extent, and thousands of half-starved creatures are seen ranging over the country destroying everything within their reach. All interests suffer from this evil, and he who shall discover a remedy by introducing some cheap and durable fence, or otherwise, will prove a public benefactor.
The Legislature has responded to our call for assistance, by granting us a portion of the fort lands in the vicinity of Honolulu, not to exceed
fifty acres, for a public nursery for plants; and by appropriating a sum for premiums equal to that raised by the society ; provided, however, that not more than five hundred dollars shall be drawn from the Treasury for this purpose in any one year. This liberality on the part of the government, deserves our thanks, and we must not suffer these benefits to go unimproved. A public nursery, where new and valuable plants could be raised and sold, or gratuitously distributed, would be a great blessing to this country ; and I doubt not, but we shall be able to procure the services of some person to undertake the enterprise, by giving him the use and profits of fifty acres of land in the immediate vicinity of our great market.
The donation for premiums, is as politic as it is liberal ; for by encouraging agriculture and increasing the products of the soil, the government swells it revenues, more than it adds to the stores of the cultivator. What is appropriated for premiums as a means of stimulating the exertions of our agriculturists and graziers, is but money loaned at good interest, and on the best of security. In England, Scotland, and the United States, the distribution of premiums has been the means of great reforms in the modes of cultivation ; of vast improvement in stock, and in the line of new implements and labor-saving machines, it has almost worked miracles. However, premiums must be distributed with judgment or they fail of their object. I feel confident that five hundred or a thousand dollars per annum, judiciously expended in this way by our society would do much to rouse and stimulate both natives and foreigners to increased exertion.
The society has not been idle on the subject of improving our public roads, inter-island navigation, and harbors. The members of the committee having this subject in charge, have exerted themselves in a most laudable manner in procuring appropriations for the improvement of our highways, and in diffusing useful knowledge relating to this matter. The effect of their labors is beginning to be felt; and as the worthy chairman of this committee has recently received the appointment of Superintendent of the Bureau of Internal Improvements, it may be expected that the public channels, and facilities for transportation will be multiplied, and greatly improved. There is a fair prospect of our soon having steamers plying between the islands, and it is hoped that this event will prove a new spur to agriculture, if not a new era