Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/82

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76
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE CULTIVATION OF TOBACCO IN THE PHILIPPINES.
By A. M. SANCHEZ.

BUREAU OF AGRICULTURE, MANILA, P. I.

TOBACCO was introduced into the Philippines soon after the Spaniards took possession, seed being brought from Mexico by Spanish missionaries. For many years little or no effort was made to restrict or encourage its cultivation, until 1781, when the cultivation and sale of tobacco was declared a state monopoly. In the tobacco growing districts of Luzon, each family was compelled to grow a certain number of plants and deliver the entire product to the agents of the government; no tobacco could be reserved for the use of the planter. Houses were searched for concealed tobacco and fines imposed for infractions of the law. These harsh provisions occasioned many riots and disturbances, and the monopoly was finally abolished in 1882. Since then, the cultivation and manufacture of tobacco have been in the hands of private individuals and companies.

At present tobacco-growing is one of the principal agricultural industries in the Philippines. The greater part of the tobacco is grown in the Island of Luzon, principally in the provinces of Isabela, Cagayan, Union, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Batangas. Small quantities of tobacco are grown in the Visayan and southern islands, the greater quantities probably being produced in Masbate, Tablas, Panay, Bohol, Leyte, Siquijor, Negros and Mindanao.

The best quality of tobacco is grown on the light alluvial soils of the Cagayan River, in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan. Isabela tobacco burns smoothly and freely, with a pleasant taste. The leaves are smooth, small in vein, thin in texture, stretch and cover well, and have an agreeable aroma.

Philippine tobacco is highly esteemed in the Orient. Its agreeable aroma and flavor have won for it a high place among cigar tobaccos. When we consider the desirable qualities of Philippine tobacco, with the primitive methods of cultivation in use, the imperfect curing and fermentation it receives, and the modern methods of treating the crop in America and other countries, it becomes quite clear that with modern scientific treatment, Philippine tobacco would be greatly improved, if not raised to rank among the best tobaccos of the world.

 

Soils and Fertilizers.

In the Cagayan Valley, where the best tobacco is grown, the general character of the soil is a sandy loam, three feet or more in depth,