Continued from last edition
They are framed so as to exclude the grant of “concessions” of many square miles in extent, which has been the curse of the Congo State, and some other African territories. Leases of lands other than Crown lands may also be acquired in the Southern Provinces under the Native Lands Acquisition Ordinance (No. 32 of 1917) (Regulation 23 of 30.8.17). These form the vast majority of lands in the Southern Provinces. No restrictions as to size, or duration of lease, or revision are prescribed by statute, but the terms (except as to revision) usually approximate to those of Crown leases.
With the exception of a small quantity of gold (2,865 ozs. in 1917), and of coal (which is for the present’ a Government monopoly) the only mineral developed in Nigeria is tin, of which 9,966 tons of ore were exported in 1917, valued at 1 ½ million sterling (4,140 tons in 1913). In furtherance of the desire of the Imperial Government to explore fully the mineral wealth of the Empire, a geological survey has recently been inaugurated. I thoroughly subscribe to the view that all mineral syndicates should produce proof that their capital and control are predominantly British. Since minerals in Nigeria are the property of the Government this presents no great ‘difficulty. Already before the War it was not permissible to export tin elsewhere than to the United Kingdom from whence a smelter’s certificate (under penalty of forfeiture of the export duty) was at first required.
A certificate of entry, and that it is not for re-export, now suffices. The revised Mineral Ordinance and Regulations of 1916 appear to have given satisfaction and worked well. The creation of “mining rights,” for low grade properties, has given much encouragement to individual holdings and small capitalists, and this class, as opposed to the Lease-Owning Companies, is beginning to occupy an important place in the mine field. The imposition of a nominal surface rent (Id, to 3d an acre) became a- necessity when the Ordinance was made applicable to the Southern Provinces, where the system of land tenure differs widely from the North.
The industry suffers by the distance of the field from the sea port, some 700 miles. Liberal concessions have been made by the abolition of the sliding scale of railway freights (varying with the market price of tin). The fixed scale effected a decrease of £1 5s when tin was below £190 a ton and of £6 3s. 6c?. when it was over that price. The new Eastern Railway will reduce the distance by 173 miles. This has commanded unprecedentedly high prices during the War, the highest being £400 per ton as against a lowest rate of £138 in 1913. Of the 80 mineral leaseholders, 67 were mining tin in 1917.
Since the cost of working is estimated at £100 a ton, large profits must have accrued, but as a ” tin-mine ” is a wasting asset, much dissatisfaction has been expressed at the incidence of the Excess Profits Tax, and the result has been to work the poorest ground to the detriment of the output, though urgently required for the War. There are at present engaged in the industry about 160 Europeans, over 300 alien natives, and about 18,000 local labourers.
The trade in hides and skins (tanned and untanned) has developed very rapidly; the value of these exports in 1913 was £197,200, and in 1917 the quantity had increased nine-fold, and the value had reached £887,000 in spite of war restrictions. The Home market was closed, and .shipments could only be made under strict regulation to the United States. If cheap transport can be secured to the Northern and North-eastern frontiers, it is possible that the enormous potential output of the regions towards the Egyptian Sudan and the Mediterranean sea-board, in which cattle, sheep, and goats are raised in vast numbers, might find its outlet through Nigeria.
Camel transport is fairly cheap, and would be used beyond our frontiers. Wheeled ox-transport must follow the bridging of the few rivers which have to be crossed unless and until railway extension is possible. Weight and bulk may perhaps be reduced by partial tanning.
Stock-raising an industry from which I had hoped much has not so far been a notable success. The conditions of Nigeria do not admit of “ranching” in the proper sense of the word, since there are no vast prairies ‘tenanted only by bison, on which great herds of stock can be grazed by European owners. In those districts, such as Bornu, where there are great spaces sparsely inhabited, the lack of water and paucity of forage, surround the problem with difficulties.
Existing conditions may be thus described large areas with a scanty population are to be found in Kontagora, Kabba and Borgu, but they are mostly infested with tsetse, and covered by sparse forest or giant grasses unsuitable for forage. Further North and East there are also great areas more or less suitable for cattle, but in so far as water and fodder permit, they are already grazed by vast herds of nomad and village cattle estimated at 3 million and flocks of sheep and goats (6 ¼ million), which are, in all probability, as much as the land in its present state can carry. Epizootic disease is rife.
The Government is pledged by the terms of the Land and Native Rights Ordinance (and indeed it is the root basis on which the policy of the country has been moulded) to act as Trustee for the native in regard to the land, and it would be contrary to this policy to exclude him from grazing areas so large as to afford scope for what is properly known as a ranch. On the other hand, it is manifestly desirable that British initiative and the results of scientific experience should he introduced, not only for the benefit of the revenue (which is to the eventual benefit of the native; and for the advantage of British trade, but also more directly for the benefit of the native since it is only by ocular demonstration that these wild cattle tribes can be taught to adopt butter methods. “Were the Annual increment of stock, which is at present lost by recurrent epizootic discuses, saved for export, it would probably form no mean cattle trade.
There is a very large local market at highly remunerative prices. The Southern Provinces arc densely populated, and the people make large profits by the sale of the abundant palm produce. They were able to spend over 1½ million stelling per annum on imported spirits. Meat is scarce since pasture is lacking, and their craving for it sometimes manifests itself in cannibalism. As happened in Fiji, this degrading practice would cease were meat procurable. The Eastern Railway, when completed, will provide cheap transport from the cattle districts to the heart of the most densely populated areas.
The demand in Lagos alone (served by the Western Railway) is said to be 400 bend a week. In times past-hundreds of thousands of cattle have been driven on the hoof from the North to supply this demand. The emaciated and diseased residue which survived the tsetse and the hundreds of miles of fodderless country lived only a few days and commanded very high prices. There is, therefore, a remunerative market for prime, rail-borne cattle, which would largely replace the sale of imported liquor. To this may be added the demand by Europeans for first-class meat, kept in cold storage, replacing the unnecessary and unnutritive tinned meats imported from Europe and America.
The demand in the United Kingdom for chilled beef is illimitable and since Nigeria is much nearer than the Argentine or Rhodesia, the value of this industry, if it could be established, can hardly be over-rated. Chilled beef must be within 22 days by steamer of its market of consumption Nigeria is only 15 days and the supply must be absolutely regular and reliable. The local stock is reported to be excellent, easily fattened, and requiring but little improvement. The local production of ground-nut cake would supplement food at a time when fodder exists only in the marshes, and the herds are emaciated.
Cotton has been a fluctuating export due in part to variations of climate and rainfall, in part to a variety of more or less transitory causes. Thus the increase in the price of imported textiles no doubt led- to a revival of local weaving, and her-je increased the local demand for raw cotton. The disturbances in French West Africa led to the cessation of the local demand from the Sokoto Province, and hence to an increased influx to the ginnery at Zaria; and the high prices realised by ground-nuts competed adversely with the cultivation of cotton. But the policy of the British Cotton Growing Association of consistently raising the purchasing-price, whenever home prices admitted of it, of maintaining the price at a uniform level throughout, each season, and of paying cash, has, I think, resulted in establishing the industry on a sound basis, and the future promises well. The success of the Agricultural Departments, in both North and South, is producing greatly improved varieties (” Allen’s ” in the former and Georgia ” in UK latter) have stimulated the natives, who are quick to appreciate their value, and steps have been taken in the North with the aid of the Native Administrations to preserve the crops from deterioration by hybridization.
The Association, ‘which has four ginneries in Nigeria (three in the South and one in the North), gives a higher price for these varieties, which have a larger yield, and a much greater proportion of lint than native cotton. Georgia is medium stable, and is as yet only in the experimental stage. Allen’s, which is now extensively, grown around Zaria, is long staple, and the Association declares that as soon as it is fully established the future of cotton in the Northern provinces is assured. Both are valued at ½d. to ½d per lb more than. “Middling American.” As cotton is planted when other crop are nearly ripe, and gathered after they and harvested, its future is secure.
Cotton was granted priority in export during UK War. The Statistical Abstract shows the quantity in 1917 at 2,357 tons, which was less than 1013 2,835 tons (13,872 bales) but the value had increased from £139,200 to £234,300. Owing to the reasons described already, 1917 was not a good year for cotton. The price paid for Allen’s was double the previous rate, its export rose from nil in 1913 to 461 bales in 1916-17, and it is anticipated that 3,000 bales will be shipped this year.
The native of Nigeria is extremely shrewd in his estimate of what pays best to cultivate, and (as occurred at Abakaliki) will prefer to take his cotton back again, even after he has brought it to the buying station, rather than accept an unremunerative price. It would seem to follow that, except as a secondary crop planted with yams, cotton cannot be grown with success in the equatorial belt, where palm oil and kernels, cocoa, tobacco, rubber, and kolas are all more valuable. Even in the North cotton can only compete in value with ground-nuts when the price is in the neighbourhood of l ½d. per Ib. for seed-cotton (£14 a ton) for though this is an outside price for ground-nuts, they are more easily transported (being less bulky), and the Hausa peasant is fully alive to the advantages of a leguminous crop for his fields, while cotton involves much more work, and greater risks from weather, parasites, &c. There is fortunately, however, another factor to be considered, which operates strongly in favour of cotton when planted as a mixed crop, viz., that it is harvested after all the other crops are off the ground.
It is of importance to establish beyond question, whether cotton can be grown successfully by irrigation as a dry-season crop, viz., whether it will withstand the great heat of the sun, and the excessively dry and parching Hamattan wind of this season. There are large areas in the North which could be irrigated by scientific methods, and if cotton can be grown upon them in the dry season, its future in Nigeria would be full of promise. The War and consequent depletion of the Agricultural “Department has prevented experimental work of this nature.
The governing factor in considering whether any great extension of cotton-growing can take place in Nigeria is of course the labour question. This consideration alone would make it impossible for a European to grow cotton successfully. Nor is there any superabundant labour for the cultivation of cotton, even as a native industry. In the densely populated South, there are, as I have quoted, millions of palms, with their fruit ungathered a product more valuable than cotton and there is little or no land which can be spared from the cultivation of foodstuffs. The dense population around Kano in the North, is engaged in growing foodstuffs, of which there is none too much, and devotes its margin to groundnuts an easy and soil-improving crop. It is of no use describing ideal tracts of waste land in Koutagora and elsewhere when the population only averages four to the square mile.
What are the remedies Increase of population by the eradication of venereal disease; a greater output of foodstuffs per acre arising from improvement in the varieties grown; saving of labour by the use of the ox in agriculture, the plough, the stump extractor, and of mechanical or animal transport, so that carriers may be employed in productive labour and finally, in the case of cotton, improved varieties which shall give an out-turn of not less than 33 1/3 per cent, lint, of the best staple, commanding a price which shall compete favourably with other crops, and (if it be possible) the realisation of cotton as a dry-season irrigation crop, when labour released from ordinary cultivation is abundant.
I offer a few suggestions, with reference to the effort to extend the growing of cotton within the Empire as it affects Nigeria.
At present I understand that when Nigerian cotton commands a price of 15d per lb in the home market, a local price of 2 ½d only can be given for seed cotton. If the yield of hint is 33 ¼ per cent. (which is higher than the average, though Abakaliki cotton was reported to yield 35¾ per cent) this would mean than the price of seed cotton is 5d (exclusive of seed value) of which only hair goes to the producer and half is absorbed in freight and marketing charges.
Lower ocean freights, improved local transport, the elimination of the middleman’s profit by direct purchase and the absence of dividends to the Central Agency, should result in a better price to the producer, while the progressive improvement of the staple, and out turn, due to the efforts of the. Agricultural Department should result in a higher home price. The price paid for ” Alien’s ” in the North (2 ½ lb.), viz., £23 a ton has resulted in an eager demand for seed, and (as 1 have said) an increase of output from nil in 1913 to an estimated 3,000 bales this year.
To offer a price which could not be maintained would not only be open to the criticism that the native had been induced to take up cotton under, false pretences, but since the crop is an annual, and he would promptly cease to grow it if the price fell below the profit to be made in other crops, the eventual loss would be on the agency, since the supply would cease. The price offered would, of course, vary within well defined limits according; to quality, e.g., a higher price would be given for exotic than for local cotton but not according to appraisement at the ginnery, so that the producer can be assured of his price, subject to stringent deductions for adulteration, or increase of weight by watering, etc. It would be subject also to variation according to locality, provided that the areas are sufficiently large, viz., all cotton in the Zaria and adjacent districts should command a uniform price (subject to the above reservation), Abakaliki another, and Yoruba-Egba another, according to transport charges which’ affect all other produce equally.
Ginneries and of course purchase must be conducted by an agency. Government cannot undertake it, and it would be undesirable as a matter of policy that it should. Each ginnery should be a centre of research, experiment, and advice to native cultivators. Additional sites suggested are Maska, Katagum, Kefli, Abakaliki, and possibly Ogoja.
Ginneries should not be erected until the need for them is fully assured. Failure to realise this has resulted in three “silent” ginneries in the Yoruba-Egba country, while the remainder are insufficiently supplied. Questions of transport and of the feasibility of a remunerative price must first be studied, or an ideal cotton district ”like Abakaliki may prove to be a failure after heavy expenses have been incurred.
It is also essential, as the Director of Agriculture (Southern Provinces) points out, that cultural tests should be made, so that it may be assured that cotton can hold its own against other competing crops. Ilorin is a case in point. The Government was said to be backward in its zeal to establish cotton in this district many years ago. To-day the Agricultural Department reports that after five years of continuous experiment and failure it is proved to be unsuitable.
Cocoa is a crop which commands a high price, with the minimum of labour and attention, and therefore (as Sir Hugh Clifford has observed) it is one which especially commends itself to the African natives. It is very badly prepared for the market, in spite of the untiring efforts of the Agricultural Department to introduce proper methods of fermentation, etc. The climate and soil of the Southern Provinces are well adapted to cocoa, and the quantity exported is increasing yearly. The quantity exported in 1917 affords no criterion cf the output, since export was restricted, but even so 15,442 tons, valued at half a million, were shipped, as against 3,621 in 1013 (£157,500).
I cannot in this place devote more than a very short paragraph to the many openings which invite development in Nigeria. Coconuts would give a most profitable yield in copra, and need little cultivation. Their growth could be indefinitely extended. Limes grow luxuriantly and yield heavily. A recent report on the Government lime-juice factory in British Guiana states that 16 per cent, profit on capital outlay was realised. It combines a coffee-huller and pulper, a grain mill, and a rice-huller and polisher. Ginger (£5 to £0 a cwt.) is another possible source of profit. Fibres of all kinds, including sisal and jute, have not received proper attention.
To be continued