638-639

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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp638-639 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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The Chairman. A continuous crop; so that when a man takes up a taro root he can put another in its place?

Mr. Alexander. Yes. It is said that taro will support more persons to the acre than any other article of food.

The Chairman. Is it nutritious?

Mr. Alexander. Very nutritious.

Senator Gray. Palatable?

Mr. Alexander. Yes, very.

The Chairman. Is it subject to any of the diseases peculiar to vegetables?

Mr. Alexander. Not till lately. In the northernmost island, the Kauai, there is something blighting it, and we are studying it to find out what blights it.

The Chairman. But it is a steady, reliable crop for human sustenance?

Mr. Alexander. Yes.

The Chairman. Are the natives fond of it?

Mr. Alexander. That is their staff of life. When they say food they mean taro.

The Chairman. Do they have it in abundance?

Mr. Alexander. Yes.

The Chairman. No dearth of it, no shortness?

Mr. Alexander. In olden times they had periodical local famines.

The Chairman. Since you have been on the islands?

Mr. Alexander. They have cultivated it more regularly of late.

The Chairman. Have they had any of those famine periods there since you were born?

Mr. Alexander. Yes; I remember in olden times they had periods when taro was scarce.

Senator Gray. Was there any suffering during that period?

Mr. Alexander. Yes. They were improvident; they would overproduce sometimes and neglect to plant.

The Chairman. Is that the first crop in importance?

Mr. Alexander. Yes.

The Chairman. Rice is planted for export?

Mr. Alexander. Yes, for home consumption and about ten millions of pounds a year to export.

The Chairman. At what elevation is that grown?

Mr. Alexander. It is generally grown near the sea. It is an irrigated crop, especially on the Island of Oahu, where we have artesian wells.

The Chairman. Is there a supply of wells on that island?

Mr. Alexander. Yes.

The Chairman. Are they numerous?

Mr. Alexander. I think there may be nearly a hundred by this time.

The Chairman. Are those artesian wells flowing wells in other parts of the islands?

Mr. Alexander. Not yet. They have not made a success of the artesian wells in any other island.

The Chairman. They have been trying to do it, but they have not done it?

Mr. Alexander. Yes, in that island they have a head of 20 to 40 feet above sea level.

The Chairman. Is it fresh water?

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Mr. Alexander. Yes. The rice crop, I suppose, is worth about a half million dollars a year.

The Chairman. Suppose that rice crop were all consumed in Hawaii, would that be a very valuable addition to the country?

Mr. Alexander. It would.

The Chairman. Now about fruits. I believe you mentioned tropical fruits?

Mr. Alexander. The orange does very well there and the banana. We export a good many of the latter. The pineapple we export; in fact, the business is just commenced of raising them. Our chief markets would be Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

The Chairman. Have you the guava?

Mr. Alexander. Yes. It grows wild.

The Chairman. Lemons and limes?

Mr. Alexander. Yes.

The Chairman. Cocoanuts?

Mr. Alexander. To a certain extent.

The Chairman. Are they capable of being grown there to any extent?

Mr. Alexander. On a great part of the coast, the sandy part of the coast, they might plant cocoanut trees.

The Chairman. Do cocoanut trees prosper there?

Mr. Alexander. Yes. But we are pretty near the northern limit of the cocoanut. They do not do as well there as near the equator.

The Chairman. Do you raise grapes?

Mr. Alexander. Yes.

The Chairman. Is Hawaii a good grape country?

Mr. Alexander. I think it is.

The Chairman. Equal to California?

Mr. Alexander. I think not. Coffee would be one of our most important crops. The coffee is of a good quality.

Senator Frye. Mr. Spalding, who appeared before the committee, was asked by me about the coffee crop, and he suggested that it was doubtful about raising coffee successfully, because there was a blight on the trees there.

Mr. Alexander. There was a blight on them in the fifties, and the people were discouraged; but it seems now to have nearly disappeared, and it depends on good judgment in cultivation. We are not afraid of it. We never had the blight that they had in Ceylon, nothing like that; our blight is of a different character.

The Chairman. It is an insect, is it not?

Mr. Alexander. Of a vegetable nature, I think.

The Chairman. Parasitic?

Mr. Alexander. Yes. In Ceylon it was very deadly. We have made strict laws about bringing in plants, to prevent more blights. The coffee interest has now taken quite a start in Hawaii.

Senator Frye. And in your opinion it will prove very successful?

Mr. Alexander. Yes.

The Chairman. Does the Government of Hawaii take care of the production of human food by protective laws?

Mr. Alexander. We have a department established, a bureau of forestry and agriculture, which is importing and experimenting with plants, supplying them to farmers, etc.

The Chairman. You have Government farms for raising those?

Mr. Alexander. We have experimental gardens near Honolulu. In fact, we are just beginning.


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