Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/375
REPORT BY G. S. FORT.
Copra is made by splitting open cocoa-nuts and drying them either artificially or in the sun. It is used in large quantities in Europe as an element in oil cake and other cattle foods. The localities at present suited for the manufacture of copra are on the south-west coast from Hula to Roma, all along the shores of Milne Bay, at Bentley Bay, and along the north-east coast as far as Dampier Straits, and many of the Islands of the D'Entrecasteaux and Louisiade Group. At each of these places cocoa-nuts grow in abundance, and could be purchased from the natives at a low price. It would, moreover, be very easy to induce them to plant more cocoa-nut trees, which, if planted in a certain manner, would bear fruit in three years. Thus, this industry is likely to yield a considerable profit to the individuals engaged in it. In order, however, to facilitate its development, it would be necessary to have a chain of stations at various points, whereby a constant supply of nuts could be obtained. The natives show themselves willing to work in procuring the nuts, and are often found trustworthy agents, and capable of rendering a correct account of any trade left in their hands for the purpose of purchase. In consequence of the moisture of the climate at Milne Bay and surrounding islands, there would be considerable difficulty in drying the nuts in the sun. As sun-dried copra is superior to the smoke-dried copra, it has been suggested that it would be more profitable to bring the nuts to Port Moresby, to be dried there by the sun, rather than treat them by artificial means.
The seat of the pearl fishing industry has hitherto been on the western extremity of the Territory, and occasionally large amounts of pearl have been collected. Quite recently, however, a large find of pearl was made in the Louisiade Group, and it is not improbable that this industry may assume much larger proportions, especially among the islands on the East Coast.
On the well-watered valleys of the Astrolabe ranges, and on the fertile areas distributed all over the Protected Territory, the following articles, for which a market could be found in the Australian colonies, could be produced without competing with colonial industries:—Cinchona, coffee, rice, on the hills, as in Java and Timor-Laut; and on the swamps, on the north-east coast, sugar, arrowroot, cotton (which grow wild), vanilla, tobacco, &c. In course of time, the natives themselves might be taught to cultivate these, and would return the produce to the Government, a certain portion being reserved as their contribution towards the expenses of Government, and the surplus being made over to them as wages.
The following are some of the natural articles of commerce already growing in the country, and capable of forming sources of revenue in addition to the