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Ever since the discovery and surveys of guano upon the Lobos Islands it has been presumed by resident merchants and speculators that this material might be worked, sold, and exported to foreign countries; and since these islands hold about the same local relation to Payta as a port of entry or clearance for shipping that the Chincha Islands hold to Callao, it has been equally supposed that Payta might some day become a port of much commercial importance therefrom.
Ultimately, no doubt, such will be the case, especially if the new efforts to obtain fresh water for the supply of the population shall succeed. The geological structure of the coast, however, renders all experiments of this kind somcwhat problematical. Besides, as there is little persistency in the determination of the government, it may be long before this desideratum may be accomplished.
The repulsiveness of the landscape, and of the locality in general, is somewhat compensated by the commodiousness of the bay and the agreeableness of the climate, and the supply of water is the only thing required to bring all classes of vessels sailing in the neighboring waters to this harbor to make it a place of considerable importance.
It has only been of special value, heretofore, to the whaling fleet of New England, as a periodical resort for giving liberty to seamen after long and tedious cruises at sea, for seeking medical and surgical relief, and for refreshing with vegetables, especially onions, their most valuable anti-scorbutic, which is grown in the interior.
The working of the Lobos Islands failing, and the whaling flect diminishing from year to year, Payta would become a port of less and less importance.
But the recent and present civil troubles in the United States, extending their influence all over the globe, either directly or indirectly, have not failed to be felt here in important agricultural and commercial respects.
COTTON. The necessities of the English market for cotton have induced capital to move in its cultivation in the inter-tropical regions of Peru. It was wholly neglected by the Spanish invaders. But the soil and the climate being both isaturally adapted to its growth, it has continued to flourish as a wild plant. Indeed, in the most favorable localities it becomes a tree of twenty and twentyfive feet in height, of considerable breadth, and throws out large biennial crops for ten or twelve successive years. This wild growth, under the pressing wants of the commercial world, was seized upon by enterprising persons after our internal troubles began, as an indication of its possible improvement by cultivation. Accordingly, after collecting, at cheap rates, say six or eight cents per pound, the wild staple, (a specimen I send in a package marked No. 11,) and exporting it for trial upon British looms, an enterprising English gentleman employed the services of one of our own merchants and civil engineers, who had Bready written a valuable treatise upon this subject, to lay out a plantation in the rich valley of the Chira, about twenty-five miles from this port. The valley of the Chira is a river bottom averaging more than two miles in width, extending from the bay to the Andes, and capable of irrigation from a small river that winds through its rich alluvial deposits.
The Chira is, perhaps, the largest river, and the valley, perhaps, presents the inest soil for cultivation of cotton on the western side of the Andes.
This spot was selected, and by a free outlay of capital several hundred acres of arid, neglected wilderness, in an incredibly short time have been turned into nagnificent and productive cotton lands.
T'he water is raised by expensive machinery and led by ingenious devices nd gigantic causeways, in such a manner as to insure abundant crops of unwiling vegetation.
VALUE OF THE FIRST SHIPMENT OF COTTON. Although it was not two years since the first blow was struck upon the virgin soil, the next steamer, I am informed, will take to England a quantity of cotton which is valued at from $10,000 to $15,000. This is the first pickings of cotton plants grown from seed planted within nine months.
THE TRADE IN WILD COTTON. In the mean time the purchase of wild cotton in the interior of the country gradually advancing from six to twenty cents per pound, has stimulated the Indians to send to market the proceeds of wild plants, and to plant the native seed in favorable localities, and the successful operations in the valley of the Chira hare encouraged the initiation of similar enterprises with Peruvian capital in all the valleys favorable for its cultivation that skirt the Andes.
VISIT TO THE INTERIOR. In a recent visit which I made to the great synclinal valley of the Andes, as far as Huancabamba, one of the sources of the Amazon, after passing ninety miles of almost trackless desert of drifting sand, I came to the fertile regions that open between the spurs of the Cordilleras. These are laid out into large estates called haciendas, embracing alike mountains, slopes, and valleys, with climate varying with altitude, and adapted to the cultivation of all classes of vegetable products.
The valleys which ascend with the greatest inclination are fitted for all · tropical productions, and recent experiments with cotton show them to be especially adapted by their soil, by periodical rains, and facilities for irrigation, for the cultivation of this staple on a vast scale.
In many places it is merely necessary to repair the canals, which often in former times extended for leagues and watered immense districts, while in others canals are being now made at great expense.
At Carrasquilla there is a gigantic enterprise of this character nearly completed. This canal everywhere is six feet wide, or more, is cut in the first portions of its course through rock and rocky debris, from twenty to thirty feet in depth, and extends six miles for the purpose of irrigating the lower region of the valley for the exclusive cultivation of cotton. So, too, further up in the direction of Salatral has commenced the planting of cotton, which has already begun to yield in abundance.
The Egyptian and sea-island cottons grow in all these places with an improved fineness and length of staple; and the wild cotton, by cultivation and mixing, is becoming much improved in quality and of great value.
The cost of transporting cotton from these remote interior regions on the backs of mules to the seaport of Payta, is from $4 to $5 the cargo of 350 lbs.
It will thus be seen that when the machinery for cleaning cotton is introduced in Peru, and enterprises already commenced and in prospect are well established, with persistent and well-directed industry this consular district must become an important locality for the exportation of this useful staple. # # #
To Mr. Duvall, our own countryman, is this district of Peru indebted for the introduction of cotton-planting, which in a few years will amply enrich all who have commenced its culture.
PROSPECTS OF PERUVIAN COTTON-PLANTING. The Egyptian cotton-plant, when once started, grows thriftily, and in four months begins to yield. The native cotton yields in eight months. Bolls open every successive day, so that picking on large plantations will be a continuous labor. It is said that there are two seasons to the yield of the wild cotton, and that the trees continued to thrive for ten years. The cultivated cotton of foreign varieties seems to differ from this habit of periodicity, and unfolds a continuous and uninterrupted harvest and becomes perennial.
THE GREAT SYNCLINAL VALLEY. Having stated thus much of the agricultural capacity and condition of the valleys that penetrate ihe spurs of the Cordilleras on this side of the continent, and the rich harvests of cotton that before long (above all other products) will be yielded by them, I will say a word of the great capacity of the great synclinal valley of the Andes in this latitude, as far as my journey allowed me to observe it.
I find the Andes clothed with vegetation throughout my ascent; and the summits of the Pacific Cordilleraz, instead of being peaked, like the lower ridges, with projections of barren rocks, were as beautifully rounded and verdant with grass and shrubs as the hills of Vermont. Cattle even were roaming and graz. ing not far from the main passes of the Sierra. But on reaching the summit the eye at once stretches eastward over an immense valley of from 30 to 40 miles in width to another ridge or range of mountains, whose eastern faces slope down into the plains of Brazil.
Between these ranges is the great synclinal valley of which I speak; at the bottom of which flows the river Huancabamba, one of the head waters of the Amazon. The river is grand, and the fertility of the region immediately becomes a most impressive conviction. On descending and winding from ridge to ridge, I was struck with the abundance and luxuriance of the great varieties of new plants and flowers.
But the most remarkable thing was the extensive cultivation of this great region by the Indian population. The slopes and bottom of the valley seen from high points were cut up into plantations and gardens. The climate is mild, rains are frequent, the periodical rains unfailing, and channels for irrigation were seen everywhere. The soil is rich, and there is no fruit nor plant which might rot be cultivated with success.
Cochineal and Peruvian bark are obtained in these regions. Flax abounds, of the finest quality; and I have no doubt cotton could be largely cultivated. The great drawback, however, in these interior regions is the difficulty of transportation of all agricultural products to the sea-coast. But such a magnificent and luxurious country, combined with so mild and salubrious a climate, I have rarely seen equalled in extensive travels over the globe.
The ultimate construction of a railroad over this part of the Andes did not appear to me wholly impracticable; but the time and money required for so vast an enterprise will probably delay the undertaking for generations.
EXPORTS AND IMPORTS OF PAYTA. There has probably been but little change in the exports and imports of other articles of native growth or merchandise since the last annual report of my predecessor, Tabular statement showing the description and value of the exports from the port of Payta to the United States all the productions of this consular dis
trict and for the New York market) for the year ended September 30, 1863. Hides and goatskins
...... $36, 841 66 Peruvian bark.......
3,007 70 Cotton ..........
7, 880 75 Wool .............
49, 298 61 The largest exports in value are made to England in orchilla, Peruvian bark, cotton and cochineal. The orchilla business is a heavy one.
The most important article of import to this district is flour, which is subject to a duty of two cents per pound, and this is brought from the mills of Chili.
A small trade is carried on by many persons with whalers, and with the interior, and along the coast. But the times are considered dyll, and agricultural enterprise is unimportant except in cotton cultivation.
Buenos Ayres-H. R. Helper, Consul.
OCTOBER 12, 1863. * * * A new tariff has recently been enacted by the Argentine congress, imposing, among other changes, a duty of seventeen and one-half per cent. on lumber, which hitherto has always been admitted free of duty. The old duty of ten per cent. on all articles exported from the republic is still retained without any modification whatever.
Statement showing the nationality and number of foreign vessels, together with
their cargoes, arrived at and departed from Buenos Ayres during the quarter ended December 31, 1862.