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Cocoa and Chocolate

CHAPTER IV

CACAO PRODUCTION AND SALE

When the English Commander, Thomas Candish, coming into the Haven Guatulco, burnt two hundred thousand tun of cacao, it proved no small loss to all New Spain, the provinces Guatimala and Nicaragua not producing so much in a whole year.
John Ogilvy's America, 1671.

When one starts to discuss, however briefly, the producing areas, one ought first to take off one's hat to Ecuador, for so long the principal producer, and then to Venezuela the land of the original cacao, and producer of the finest criollo type. Having done this, one ought to say words of praise to Trinidad, Grenada and Ceylon for their scientific methods of culture and preparation; and, last but not least, the newest and greatest producer, the Gold Coast, should receive honourable mention. It is interesting to note that in 1918 British Possessions produced nearly half (44 per cent.) of the world's supply.

Whilst the war has not very materially hindered the increase of cacao production in the tropics, the shortage of shipping has prevented the amount exported from maintaining a steady rise. The table below, taken mainly from the "Gordian," illustrates this:

WORLD PRODUCTION OF CACAO.

Total in tons (1 ton = 1000 kilogrammes)
1908194,000 1914277,000
1909206,000 1915298,000
1910220,000 1916297,000
1911241,000 1917343,000
1912234,000 1918273,000
1913258,000 1919431,000

The following table is compiled chiefly from Messrs. Theo. Vasmer & Co.'s reports in the Confectioners' Union.

CACAO PRODUCTION OF THE CHIEF PRODUCING AREAS OF THE WORLD.

(1 ton = 1000 kilogrammes).
Country.19141915 191619171918
Tons.Tons. Tons.Tons.Tons.
Gold Coast[1] 53,00077,30072,200 91,00066,300
Brazil40,80045,000 43,70055,60041,900
Ecuador47,20037,000 42,70047,20038,000
San Thom�31,40029,900 33,20031,90026,600
Trinidad[1] 28,40024,10024,000 31,80026,200
San Domingo20,70020,200 21,00023,70018,800
Venezuela16,90018,300 15,20013,10013,000
Lagos[1] 4,9009,1009,000 15,40010,200
Grenada[1] 6,1006,5005,500 5,5006,700
Fernando Po3,1003,900 3,8003,7004,200
Ceylon[1] 2,9003,9003,500 3,7004,000
Jamaica[1] 3,8003,6003,400 2,8003,000
Surinam1,9001,700 2,0001,9002,500
Cameroons1,2002,400 3,0002,8001,300
Haiti2,1001,800 1,9001,5002,300
French Cols.1,8001,900 1,6002,2001,700
Cuba1,8001,700 1,5001,5001,000
Java1,6001,500 1,5001,600800
Samoa1,100900 9001,200800
Togo200300 4001,6001,000
St. Lucia[1] 700800700 600500
Belgian Congo500600 800800900
Dominica[1] 450550300 300300
St. Vincent[1] 10010075 5075
Other countries3,200 3,0003,500 3,5003,500
Total275,900 296,100295,400 344,000275,600
Total British Empire102,000 128,000120,000153,000 119,000

MAP OF THE WORLD, WITH ONLY CACAO-PRODUCING AREAS MARKED.

SOUTH AMERICAN CACAO.

In the map of South America given on p. 89 the principal cacao producing areas are marked. Their production in 1918 was as follows:

CACAO BEANS EXPORTED.

Country. Metric Tons.[2] Percentage of
World's production.
Brazil41,86515.4
Ecuador38,0014.0
    (Guayaquil alone 34,973 tons)
Venezuela13,0005.0
Surinam2,4680.9
British Guiana20 0.01
South American Total95,353 tons 35.31 per cent.

 

RAKING CACAO BEANS ON THE DRIERS.

GATHERING CACAO PODS IN ECUADOR.

(La Clementina Plantation, Ecuador.)

ECUADOR.

Arriba and Machala Cacaos.—In Ecuador, for many years the chief producing area of the world, dwell the cacao kings, men who possess very large and wild cacao forests, each containing several million cacao trees. The method of culture is primitive, and no artificial manures are used, yet for several generations the trees have given good crops and the soil remains as fertile as ever. The two principal cacaos are known as Arriba and Machala, or classed together as Guayaquil after the city of that name. Guayaquil, the commercial metropolis of the Republic of Ecuador, is an ancient and picturesque city built almost astride the Equator. Despite the unscientific cultural methods, and the imperfect fermentation, which results in the cacao containing a high percentage of unfermented beans and not infrequently mouldy beans also, this cacao is much appreciated in Europe and America, for the beans are large and possess a fine strong flavour and characteristic scented aroma. The amount of Guayaquil cacao exported in 1919 was 33,209 tons.

SORTING CACAO FOR SHIPMENT, GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR.

An interesting experiment was made in 1912, when a protective association known as the Asociacion de Agricultores del Ecuador was legalised. This collects half a golden dollar on every hundred pounds of cacao, and by purchasing and storing cacao on its own account whenever prices fall below a reasonable minimum, attempts in the planter's interest to regulate the selling price of cacao. Unfortunately, as cacao tends to go mouldy when stored in a damp tropical climate, the Asociacion is not an unmixed blessing to the manufacturer and consumer.

BRAZIL.

Parâ and Bahia Cacaos.—Brazil has made marked progress in recent years, and has now overtaken Ecuador in quantity of produce; the cacao, however, is quite different from, and not as fine as, that from Guayaquil. The principal cacao comes from the State of Bahia, where the climate is ideal for its cultivation. Indeed so perfect are the natural conditions that formerly no care was taken in cacao production, and much of that gathered was wild and uncured. During the last decade there has been an improvement, and this would, doubtless, be more noteworthy if the means of transport were better, for at present the roads are bad and the railways inadequate; hence most of the cacao is brought down to the city of Bahia in canoes. Nevertheless, Bahia cacao is better fermented than the peculiar cacao of Pará, another important cacao from Brazil, which is appreciated by manufacturers on account of its mild flavour. Bahia exported in 1919 about 51,000 tons of cacao.

VENEZUELA.

Caracas, Carupano and Maracaibo Cacaos.—Venezuela has been called "the classic home of cacao," and had not the chief occupation of its inhabitants been revolution, it would have retained till now the important position it held a hundred years ago. It is in this enchanted country (it was at La Guayra in Caracas, as readers of Westward Ho! will remember, that Amyas found his long-sought Rose) that the finest cacao in the world is produced: the criollo, the bean with the golden-brown break. The tree which produces this is as delicate as the cacao is fine, and there is some danger that this superb cacao may die out—a tragedy which every connoisseur would wish to avert.

The Gordian estimates that Venezuela sent out from her three principal ports in 1919 some 16,226 tons of cacao.

THE WEST INDIES.

MAP OF SOUTH AMERICA AND THE WEST INDIES.
Only cacao-producing areas are marked.

In the map of South America the principal West Indian islands producing cacao are marked. Their production in 1918 was as follows:

CACAO BEANS EXPORTED.

Metric Tons.Percentage
of World's production.
Trinidad (British)26,1779.7
San Domingo18,8397.0
Grenada (British)6,7042.5
Jamaica (British)3,0001.1
Haiti2,2720.8
St. Lucia (British)5000.2
Dominica (British)3000.1
St. Vincent (British)70 0.02
West Indies Total57,862 tons 21.42 per cent.
Br. West Indies36,751 tons 13.6 per cent.

TRINIDAD AND GRENADA.[3]

Cacao was grown in the West Indies in the seventeenth century, and the inhabitants, after the destructive "blast," which utterly destroyed the plantations in 1727, bravely replanted cacao, which has flourished there ever since. The cacaos of Trinidad and Grenada have long been known for their excellence, and it is mainly from Trinidad that the knowledge of methods of scientific cultivation and preparation has been spread to planters all round the equator. The cacao from Trinidad (famous alike for its cacao and its pitch lake) has always held a high place in the markets of the world, although a year or two ago the inclusion of inferior cacao and the practice of claying was abused by a few growers and merchants. With the object of stopping these abuses and of producing a uniform cacao, there was formed a Cacao Planters' Association, whose business it is to grade and bulk, and sell on a co-operative basis, the cacao produced by its members. This experiment has proved successful, and in 1918 the Association handled the cacao from over 100 estates. We may expect to see more of these cacao planters' associations formed in various parts of the world, for they are in line with the trend of the times towards large, and ever larger, unions and combinations. Trinidad is also progressive in its system of agricultural education and in its formation of agricultural credit societies. The neighbouring island of Grenada is mountainous, smaller than the Isle of Wight and (if the Irish will forgive me) greener than Erin's Isle. The methods of cacao cultivation in vogue there might seem natural to the British farmer, but they are considered remarkable by cacao planters, for in Grenada the soil on which the trees grow is forked or tilled. Possibly from this follows the equally remarkable corollary that the cacao trees flourish without a single shade tree. The preparation of the bean receives as much care as the cultivation of the tree, and the cacao which comes from the estates has an unvaried constancy of quality, not infrequently giving 100 per cent. of perfectly prepared beans. It is largely due to this that the cacao from this small island occupies such an important position on the London market.

The cacao from San Domingo is known commercially as Samana or Sanchez. A fair proportion is of inferior quality, and is little appreciated on the European markets. The bulk of it goes to America. The production in 1919 was about 23,000 tons.

WORKERS ON A CACAO PLANTATION.
(Messrs. Cadbury's estate in Trinidad.)

AFRICAN CACAO.

MAP OF AFRICA—WITH ONLY CACAO-PRODUCING AREAS MARKED.

In the map of Africa the principal producing areas are marked. Their production in 1918 was as follows:

CACAO BEANS EXPORTED.

Metric Tons.Percentage of
World's production.
Gold Coast (British)66,34324.5
San Thom�19,1857.1
Lagos (British)10,2233.8
Fernando Po4,2201.6
Cameroons1,2500.4
Togo1,0000.4
Belgian Congo875 0.3
African Total103,096 tons 38.1 per cent.
British Africa76,566 tons 28.3 per cent.

THE GOLD COAST (Industria floremus).

Accra Cacao.

The name recalls stories of a romantic and awful past, in which gold and the slave trade played their terrible part. Happily these are things of the past; so is the "deadly climate." We are told that it is now no worse than that of other tropical countries. According to Sir Hugh Clifford, until recently Governor of the Gold Coast, the "West African Climatic Bogie" is a myth, and the "monumental reputation for unhealthiness" undeserved. When De Candolle wrote concerning cacao, "I imagine it would succeed on the Guinea Coast,"[4] as the West African coast is sometimes called, he achieved prophecy, but he little dreamed how wonderful this success would be. The rise and growth of the cacao-growing industry in the Gold Coast is one of the most extraordinary developments of the last few decades. In thirty years it has increased its export of cacao from nothing to 40 per cent. of the total of the world's production.

FORESHORE AT ACCRA, WITH STACKS OF CACAO READY FOR SHIPMENT
Reproduced by permission of the Editor of "West Africa".

PRODUCTION OF CACAO ON THE GOLD COAST.

Year.Quantity.Value. �
18910 tons (80 lbs.)4
189634 tons2,276
1901980 tons42,837
19068,975 tons336,269
191130,798 tons1,613,468
191672,161 tons3,847,720
191790,964 tons3,146,851
191866,343 tons1,796,985
1919177,000 tons8,000,000

 

CARRIERS CONVEYING BAGS OF CACAO TO SURF BOATS, ACCRA.
Reproduced by permission of the Editor of "West Africa."

The conditions of production in the Gold Coast present a number of features entirely novel. We hear from time to time of concessions being granted in tropical regions to this or that company of enterprising European capitalists, who employ a few Europeans and send them to the area to manage the industry. The inhabitants of the area become the manual wage earners of the company, and too often in the lust for profits, or as an offering to the god of commercial efficiency, the once easy and free life of the native is lost for ever and a form of wage-slavery takes its place with doubtful effects on the life and health of the workers. In defence it is pointed out that yet another portion of the earth has been made productive, which, without the initiative of the European capitalist, must have lain fallow. But in the Gold Coast the "indolent" native has created a new industry entirely native owned, and in thirty years the Gold Coast has outstripped all the areas of the world in quantity of produce. Forty years ago the natives had never seen a cacao tree, now at least fifty million trees flourish in the colony. This could not have happened without the strenuous efforts of the Department of Agriculture. The Gold Coast now stands head and shoulders above any other producing area for quantity. The problem of the future lies in the improvement of quality, and difficult though this problem be, we cannot doubt, given a fair chance, that the far-sighted and energetic Agricultural Department will solve it. Indeed, it must in justice be pointed out that already a very marked improvement has been made, and now fifty to one hundred times as much good fermented cacao is produced as there was ten years ago.[5] However, if a high standard is to be maintained, the work of the Department of Agriculture must be supplemented by the willingness of the cacao buyers to pay a higher price for the better qualities.

CROSSING THE RIVER AT NSAWAM, GOLD COAST.

The phenomenal growth of this industry is the more remarkable when we consider the lack of roads and beasts of burden. The usual pack animals, horses and oxen, cannot live on the Gold Coast because of the tsetse fly, which spreads amongst them the sleeping sickness. And so the native, used as he is to heavy head-loads, naturally adopted this as his first method of transport, and hundreds of the less affluent natives arrive at the collecting centres with great weights of cacao on their heads. "Women and children, light-hearted, chattering and cheerful, bear their 60 lbs. head-loads with infinite patience. Heavier loads, approaching sometimes two hundredweight, are borne by grave, silent Hausa-men, often a distance of thirty or forty miles."

DRYING CACAO BEANS AT
MRAMRA. Reproduced by
permission from the
Imperial Institute series
of Handbooks to the
Commercial Resources
of the Tropics.

One day, not so many years ago, some more ingenious native in the hills at the back of the Coast, filled an old palm-oil barrel with cacao and rolled it down the ways to Accra. And now to-day it is a familiar sight to see a man trundling a huge barrel of cacao, weighing half a ton, down to the coast. The sound of a motor horn is heard, and he wildly turns the barrel aside to avoid a disastrous collision with the new, weird transport animal from Europe. Motor lorries have been used with great effect on the coast for some seven years; they have the advantage over pack animals that they do not succumb to the bite of the dreaded tsetse fly, but nevertheless not a few derelicts lie, or stand on their heads, in the ditches, the victims of over-work or accident.

SHOOTING CACAO FROM THE ROAD TO THE BEACH, ACCRA.

Having brought the cacao to the coast, there yet remains the lighterage to the ocean liner, which lies anchored some two miles from the shore, rising and falling to the great rollers from the broad Atlantic. A long boat is used, manned by some twenty swarthy natives, who glory—vocally—in their passage through the dangerous surf which roars along the sloping beach. The cacao is piled high on wood racks and covered with tarpaulins and seldom shares the fate of passengers and crew, who are often drenched in the surf before they swing by a crane in the primitive mammy chair, high but not dry, on board the hospitable Elder Dempster liner.

ROLLING CACAO, GOLD COAST.

SAN THOMÉ (AND PRINCIPE).

We now turn from the Gold Coast and the success of native ownership to another part of West Africa, a scene of singular beauty, where the Portuguese planters have triumphed over savage nature.

Two lovely islands, San Thomé and its little sister isle of Principe, lie right on the Equator in the Gulf of Guinea, about two hundred miles from the African mainland. A warm, lazy sea, the sea of the doldrums, sapphire or turquoise, or, in deep shaded pools, a radiant green, joyfully foams itself away against these fairy lands of tossing palm, dense vegetation, rushing cascades, and purple, precipitous peaks. A soil of volcanic origin is covered with a rich humus of decaying vegetation, and this, with a soft humid atmosphere, makes an ideal home for cacao.

The bean, introduced in 1822, was not cultivated with diligence till fifty years ago. To-day the two islands, which together have not half the area of Surrey, grow 32,000 metric tons of cacao a year, or about one-tenth of the world's production.[6] The income of a single planter, once a poor peasant, has amounted to hundreds of thousands sterling.

ROLLING CACAO, GOLD COAST.
Reproduced by permission of the Editor of "West Africa."

Dotted over the islands, here nestling on a mountain side, there overlooking some blue inlet of the sea, are more than two hundred plantations, or rocas, whose buildings look like islands in a green sea of cacao shrubs, above which rise the grey stems of such forest trees as have been left to afford shade.

CARRYING CACAO TO THE RAILWAY STATION, NSAWAM, GOLD COAST.

Here, not only have the cultivation, fermentation and drying of cacao been brought to the highest state of perfection, but the details of organisation—planters' homes, hospitals, cottages, drying sheds and the Decauville railways—are often models of their kind.

Intelligent and courteous, the planters make delightful hosts. At their homes, five thousand miles away from Europe, the visitor, who knows what it means to struggle with steaming, virgin forests, rank encroaching vegetation, deadly fevers, and the physical and mental inertia engendered by the tropics, will marvel at the courage and energy that have triumphed over such obstacles. Calculating from various estimates, each labourer in the islands appears to produce about 1,640 pounds of cacao yearly, and the average yield per cultivated acre is 480 pounds, or about 30 pounds more than that of Trinidad in 1898.

WAGON LOADS OF CACAO BEING TAKEN FROM MESSRS. CADBURY'S DEPOT TO THE BEACH, ACCRA.

As there is no available labour in San Thomé, the planters get their workers from the mainland of Africa. Prior to the year 1908, the labour system of the islands was responsible for grave abuses. This has now been changed. Natives from the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique now enter freely into contracts ranging from one to five years, two years being the time generally chosen. At the end of their term of work they either re-contract or return to their native land with their savings, with which they generally buy a wife. The readiness with which the natives volunteer for the work on the islands is proof both of the soundness of the system of contract and of the good treatment they receive at the hands of the planters.

THE BUILDINGS OF THE BOA ENTRADA CACAO ESTATE, SAN THOMÉ.

Unfortunately, the mortality of the plantation labourers has generally been very heavy, one large and well-managed estate recording on an average of seven years an annual death rate of 148 per thousand, and many rocas have still more appalling records. Against this, other plantations only a few miles away may show a mortality approximating to that of an average European city. In February, 1918, the workers in San Thomé numbered 39,605, and the deaths during the previous year, 1917, were 1,808, thus showing on official figures an annual mortality of 45 per thousand. Comparing this with the 26 per thousand of Trinidad, and remembering that most of the San Thomé labourers are in the prime of life, it will be seen that this death rate represents a heavy loss of life and justifies the continued demand from the British cocoa manufacturers for the appointment and report of a special medical commission.

The Portuguese Government is prepared to meet this demand, for it has recently sent a Commissioner, Dr. Joaquim Gouveia, to San Thomé to make a thorough examination of labour conditions, including work, food, housing, hospitals and medical attendance, and to report fully and confidentially to the Portuguese Colonial Secretary.

DRYING CACAO AT AGUA IZE, SAN THOMÉ.
The trays are on wheels, which run on rails.

If this important step is followed by adequate measures of reform there is every reason to hope that the result will be a material reduction in the death rate, as the good health enjoyed on some of the rocas shows San Thomé to be not more unhealthy than other tropical islands.

CAMEROONS.

The Cameroons, which we took from the Germans in 1916, is also on the West Coast of Africa. It lags far behind the Gold Coast in output, although both commenced to grow cacao about the same time. The Germans spent great sums in the Cameroons in giving the industry a scientific basis, they adopted the "estate plan," and possibly the fact that they employ contract labour explains why they have not had the same phenomenal success that the natives working for themselves have achieved on the Gold Coast.

BARREL ROLLING, GOLD COAST.

Various countries and districts which are responsible for about 97 per cent. of the world's cacao crop have now been named and briefly commented upon. Of other producing areas, the islands, Ceylon and Java, are worthy of mention. In both of these (as also in Venezuela, Samoa[7] and Madagascar) is grown the criollo cacao, which produces the plump, sweet beans with the cinnamon "break." Cacao beans from Ceylon or Java are easily recognised by their appearance, because, being washed, they have beautiful clean shells, but there is a serious objection to washed shells, namely, that they are brittle and as thin as paper, so that many are broken before they reach the manufacturer. Ceylon is justly famous for its fine "old red"; along with this a fair quantity of inferior cacao is produced, which by being called Ceylon (such is the power of a good name), tends to claim a higher price than its quality warrants.

BAGGING CACAO, GOLD COAST.
Reproduced by permission of the Editor of "West Africa."

 

CACAO MARKETS.

From the Plantation to the European Market.

SURF BOATS BY THE SIDE OF THE OCEAN LINER, ACCRA.

It is mentioned above that on the Gold Coast cacao is brought down to Accra as head-loads, or in barrels, or in motor-lorries. These methods are exceptional; in other countries it is usually put in sacks at the estate. Every estate has its own characteristic mark, which is stamped on the bags, and this is recognised by the buyers in Europe, and gives a clue to the quality of the contents. There is not as yet a uniform weight for a bag of cacao, although they all vary between one and two cwt., thus the bags from Africa contain 1-1/4 cwts., whilst those from Guayaquil contain 1-3/4 cwts. In these bags the cacao is taken to the port on the backs of mules, in horse or ox carts, in canoes down a stream, or more rarely, by rail. It is then conveyed by lighters or surf boats to the great ocean liners which lie anchored off the shore. In the hold of the liner it is rocked thousands of miles over the azure seas of the tropics to the grey-green seas of the temperate zone. In pre-war days a million bags used to go to Hamburg, three-quarters of a million to New York, half a million to Havre, and only a trifling quarter of a million to London. Now London is the leading cacao market of the world. During the war the supplies were cut off from Hamburg, whilst Liverpool, becoming a chief port for African cacao, in 1916 imported a million bags. Then New York began to gorge cacao, and in 1917 created a record, importing some two and a half million bags, or about 150,000 tons. Whilst everything is in so fluid a condition it is unwise to prophesy; it may, however, be said that there are many who think, now that the consumption of cocoa and chocolate in America has reached such a prodigious figure, that New York may yet oust London and become the central dominating market of the world.

Difficulties of Buying.

Every country produces a different kind of cacao, and the cacao from any two plantations in the same country often shows wide variation. It may be said that there are as many kinds of cacao as there are of apples, cacao showing as marked differences as exhibited by crabs and Blenheims, not to mention James Grieves, Russets, Worcester Pearmains, Newton Wonders, Lord Derbys, Belle de Boskoops, and so forth. Further, whilst the bulk of the cacao is good and sound, a little of the cacao grown in any district is liable to have suffered from drought or from attacks by moulds or insect pests. It will be realised from these fragmentary remarks that the buyer must exercise perpetual vigilance.

BAGGING CACAO BEANS FOR SHIPMENT, TRINIDAD.

TRANSFERRING BAGS OF CACAO BEANS TO LIGHTERS, TRINIDAD.

Cacao Sales.

Before the Cocoa Prices Orders were published (March, 1918) the manner of conducting the sale of cacao in London was as follows. Brokers' lists giving the kinds of cacao for sale, and the number of bags of each, were sent, together with samples, to the buyers some days beforehand, so that they were able to decide what they wished to purchase and the price they were willing to pay. The sales always took place at 11 o'clock on Tuesdays in the Commercial Sale Room in Mincing Lane, that narrow street off Fenchurch Street, where the air is so highly charged with expert knowledge of the world's produce, that it would illuminate the prosaic surroundings with brilliant flashes if it could become visible. On the morning of the sale samples of the cacaos are on exhibit at the principal brokers. The man in the street brought into the broker's office would ask what these strange beans might be. "A new kind of almond?" he might ask. And then, on being told they were cacao, he would see nothing to choose between all the various lots and wonder why so much fuss was made over discriminating amongst the similar and distinguishing the identical. He might even marvel a little at the expert knowledge of the buyers; yet, frankly, the pertinent facts concerning quality, known by the buyer, are fewer and no more difficult to learn than the thousand and one facts a lad must have at his finger ends to pass the London Matriculation; they are valued because they are inaccessible to the multitude; only a few people have the opportunity of learning them, and their use may make or mar fortunes. The judgment of quality is, however, only one side of the art of buying. We have to add to these a knowledge of the conditions prevailing in the various markets of the world, a knowledge of stocks and probable supplies, and given this knowledge, an ability to estimate their effect, together with other conditions, agricultural, political and social, on the price of the commodity. The room in which the sales are conducted is not a large one, and usually not more than a hundred people, buyers, pressmen, etc., are present. Not a single cacao bean is visible, and it might be an auction sale of property for all the uninitiated could tell. The cacao is put up in lots. Usually the sales proceed quietly, and it is difficult to realize that many thousands of bags of cacao are changing hands. The buyers have perfect trust in the broker's descriptions; they know the invariable fair-play of the British broker, which is a by-word the world over. The machinery of the proceedings is lubricated by an easy flow of humour. Sometimes a few bags of sea-damaged cacao or of cacao sweepings are put up, and a good deal of keenness is shown by the individuals who buy this stuff. It is curious that a whole crowd of busy people will allow their time to be taken up whilst there is a spirited fight between two or three buyers for a single bag.

Whilst the London Auction Sales are of importance as fixing the prices for the various markets, and reflecting to a certain extent the position of supply and demand, only a fraction of the world's cacao changes hands at the Auction Sales, the greater part of it being bought privately for forward delivery.

Prices and Quotations.

DIAGRAM SHOWING VARIATION IN PRICE OF CACAO BEANS FROM 1913 TO 1919.

The price of cacao is liable to fluctuations like every other product, thus in 1907 Trinidad cacao rose to one shilling a pound, whilst there have been periods when it has only fetched sixpence per pound. On April 2nd, 1918, the Food Controller fixed the prices of the finest qualities of the different varieties of raw cacao as follows:

British West
Africa (Accra)
65s. per cwt.
Bahia
Cameroons
San Thom�
Congo
Grenada
\
  |
   }
  |
/
85s.    "     "
Trinidad
Demerara
Guayaquil
Surinam
\
  }
/
90s.    "     "
Ceylon
Java
Samoa
\
  }
/
100s.    "     "

The diagram on p. 113 shows the average market price in the United Kingdom of some of the more important cacaos before, during, and after the war. The most striking change is the sudden rise when the Government control was removed. All cacaos showed a substantial advance varying from 80 to 150 per cent. on pre-war values. Further large advances have taken place in the early months of 1920.

The Call of the Tropics.

Many a young man, reading in some delightful book of travel, has longed to go to the tropics and see the wonders for himself. There can be no doubt that a sojourn in equatorial regions is one of the most educative of experiences. In support of this I cannot do better than quote Grant Allen, who regarded the tropics as the best of all universities. "But above all in educational importance I rank the advantage of seeing human nature in its primitive surroundings, far from the squalid and chilly influences of the tail-end of the Glacial epoch." ... "We must forget all this formal modern life; we must break away from this cramped, cold, northern world; we must find ourselves face to face at last, in Pacific isles or African forests, with the underlying truths of simple naked nature."

GROUP OF WORKERS ON CACAO ESTATE.
Some are standing on the Drying Platform, which is the roof of the Fermentary.

Many will recall how Charles Kingsley's longing to see the tropics was ultimately satisfied. In his book, in which he describes how he "At Last" visited the West Indies, we read that he encountered a happy Scotchman living a quiet life in the dear little island of Monos. "I looked at the natural beauty and repose; at the human vigour and happiness; and I said to myself, and said it often afterwards in the West Indies: 'Why do not other people copy this wise Scot? Why should not many a young couple, who have education, refinement, resources in themselves, but are, happily or unhappily for them, unable to keep a brougham and go to London balls, retreat to some such paradise as this (and there are hundreds like it to be found in the West Indies), leaving behind them false civilisation, and vain desires, and useless show; and there live in simplicity and content 'The Gentle Life'?"

The Planter's Life.

Few who go to the tropics escape their fascination, and of those that are young, few return to colder climes. Some become overseers, others, more fortunate, own the estates they manage. It is inadvisable for the inexperienced to start on the enterprise of buying and planting an estate with less capital than two or three thousand pounds; but, once established, a cacao plantation may be looked upon as a permanent investment, which will continue to bear and give a good yield as long as it receives proper attention.

In the recently published Letters of Anthony Farley the writer tells how Farley encounters in South America an old college friend of his, who in his early days was on the high road to a brilliant political career. Here he is, a planter. He explains:

"My mother was Spanish; her brother owned this place. When he died it came to me."

"How did your uncle hold it through the various revolutions?"

"Nothing simpler. He became an American citizen. When trouble threatened he made a bee-line for the United States Consulate. I'm British, of course. Well, just when I had decided upon a political life, I found it necessary to come here to straighten things out. One month lengthened itself into a year. I grew fascinated. Here I felt a sense of immense usefulness. On the mountain side my coffee-trees flourished; down in the valley grew cacao."

"I grow mine on undulations."

"You needn't, you know, so long as you drain."

"Yes, but draining on the flat is the devil."

"Anyhow, I always liked animals—you haven't seen my pigs yet—and horses and mules need careful tending. A cable arrived one morning announcing an impending dissolution. I felt like an unwilling bridegroom called to marry an ugly bride. I invited my soul. Here, thought I to myself, are animals and foodstuffs—good, honest food at that. If I go back it is only to fill people's bellies with political east wind.

"To come to the point, I decided to grow coffee and cacao. I cabled infinite regrets. The decision once made, I was happy as a sandboy. J'y suis, j'y reste, said I to myself, said I. Nor have I ever cast one longing look behind."[8]

This is fiction, but I think it is true that very few, if any, who become planters in the tropics ever return permanently to England. The hospitality of the planters is proverbial: there must be something good and free about the planter's life to produce men so genial and generous. There is a picture that I often recall, and never without pleasure. A young planter and I had, with the help of more or less willing mules, climbed over the hills from one valley to the next. The valley we had left is noted for its beauty, but to me it had become familiar; the other valley I saw now for the first time. The sides were steep and covered with trees, and I could only see one dwelling in the valley. We reached this by a circuitous path through cacao trees. Approaching it as we did, the bungalow seemed completely cut off from the rest of the world. We were welcomed by the planter and his wife, and by those of the children who were not shy. I have never seen more chubby or jolly kiddies, and I know from the sweetness of the children that their mother must have given them unremitting attention. I wondered indeed if she ever left them for a moment. I knew, too, from the situation of the bungalow in the heart of the hills that visitors were not likely to be frequent. The planter's life is splendid for a man who likes open air and nature, but I had sometimes thought that their wives would not find the life so good. I was mistaken. When we came away, after riding some distance, through a gap in the cacao we saw across the valley a group of happy children. They saw us, and all of them, even the shy ones, waved us adieux.

CARTING CACAO TO RAILWAY STATION, CEYLON.

THE CARENAGE, GRENADA.

[1] British Possessions.
[2] These figures, and others quoted later in this chapter, are estimates given by Messrs. Theo. Vasmer & Co. in their reports.
[3] Cacao production in 1919: Trinidad 27,185 tons; Grenada 4,020 tons.
[4] De Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, quoted by R. Whymper.
[5] "Towards this latter result Messrs. Cadbury Bros., Ltd., rendered great assistance. This firm sent representatives into the country, who proved to the natives that they were willing to pay an enhanced price for cocoa prepared in a manner suitable for their requirements. A fair amount of cocoa was purchased by them, and demonstrations were made in some places with regard to the proper mode of fermentation." (The Agricultural and Forest Products of British West Africa. Imperial Institute Handbook, by G.C. Dudgeon).
[6] The Gordian's estimate for the amount exported in 1919 is 40,766 tons.
[7] Robert Louis Stevenson was one of the pioneers in cacao planting in Samoa, as readers of his Vailima Letters will remember.
[8] Quoted from the New Age, where the Letters of Anthony Farley first appeared.


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