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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/90

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

AGRICULTURAL WORK IN THE PHILIPPINES.

The introduction of American methods for the promotion of agriculture in the island possessions has followed closely upon American occupation. In Hawaii and Porto Rico experiment stations have been established under government support, and in the Philippine Islands a bureau of agriculture was put in operation about two years ago. The activity of this bureau in organizing its work of propaganda and investigation, as indicated by Professor F. Lamson-Scribner's second annual report, has been mainly along the lines of establishing experiment stations and farms, studying the conditions surrounding the principal agricultural industries, the introduction of farm machinery and improved methods of culture, and the testing and distribution of introduced plants and seed.

Seven experiment stations and farms have been established for special branches of agriculture or in typical sections of the country. These include a rice farm, a live stock farm, a sugar station, a farm for cocoanut and abacâ (Manila hemp) culture, a testing station near Manila, and two other stations for general work in typical localities. For the coffee industry, formerly an extensive one in Batangas Province but now practically abandoned, owing to the ravages of leaf blight and borers, a coffee plantation has been started with imported hybrids, and it is hoped to secure resistance to disease and insect injuries by vigorous growing varieties and thorough cultivation.

Special effort is being made to promote the rice industry, for although rice is the staple article of food for the Filipinos, not enough is produced for home consumption. The most approved American methods are being followed on the rice farm, and the crop of last year, which occupied about 1,000 acres, was seeded, cut and thrashed out with the latest machinery. This demonstration was a revelation to the natives whose methods of stowing and handling the product are very primitive, and they were willing to pay a good toll for having their rice thrashed out by machinery, in preference to hand thrashing. In fact, the natives have taken readily to the modern agricultural implements and machinery introduced by the bureau, and soon get to use them skilfully.

On the hemp and cocoanut farm the problems of managing the plantations and of preparing copra, a staple article of export, are being taken up. A more careful selection of the species of abacâ and better methods of culture would greatly increase the yield of merchantable fiber, and the perfection of a machine for stripping and cleaning the hemp fiber would aid greatly in developing this important industry. A very interesting study of the present methods of preparing the hemp, and its effect upon quality, is incorporated in the report.

The live stock found in the islands is for the most part of an inferior quality, and the industry is at present at a low ebb, disease (surra and rinderpest) having carried off so many of the work animals as to cripple very seriously the native farming. Improved stock of different kinds has been imported for the stock farm, and the attempt will be made to ascertain the breeds and crosses best adapted to existing conditions, and to solve the forage problem. The latter is an acute