Local Industries Association.
A meeting of the Local Industries Association was held last evening, at the Town Hall. Mr. H. Friedlander, Mayor of the Borough and Vice-President of the . Society, was in the chair. There was. only, a limited attendance, owing, probably, to the early period of the evening for which the meeting was called. The Secretary, Mr. Poyntz, reported laving received Parliamentary Papers from the Colonial Secretary re cultivation of beetroot and the manufacture of sugar from the same. The reports of the sub-committees on beetroot sugar and flax and linseed were read and approved—an extension of time being granted to bring up fuller reports. These reports appear below. The Secretary reported that Messrs. Mayo and J. Hunt had each prepared a piece of ground, half an acre in extent, to experiment on the growth of the white Silesian beet, and that the Vice-Presidept had procured the necessary seed. The other reports wore held over till next meeting. Mr. Steele, on behalf of the tanning industry, reported that owing to our distance from Christchurch and the inability to procure proper hark for tanning purposes, it was deemed that this industry would not be at present practicable. In the discussion that followed, several members thought that the birch bark procurable at Alford Forest was the right material, and that if so it seemed the industry was peculiarly .adapted to this place. Mr. Steele promised to bring up a further and fuller report. Mr. Gundry was admitted a member of the Association, and he reported that a splendid specimen of Authiacito coal had been found (and was on view) from a seam, which was supposed to lie at some depth, near Mount Somers. It was resolved that the Secretary enquire as to the practicability of obtaining the use of the [Government boring machine (at present boring on the West Coast) for the purpose of prospecting near Mount Somers, a notice having appeared in the Gazette that the boring machine was available for these purposes on a small payment for the use of the machine. It is hoped that mox’e vitality and interest will be shown by this Association, as it is said to be productive of good to the district.
Report of Sub-Committee on Beetroot - Sugar Manufacture. —Your Committee have the honor to report as follows upon the subject of enquiry submitted to them, namely, the suitability of this district for the manufacture of sugar from beetroot : Having hold several meetings and duly considered all the information upon the subject immediately available, your Committee find that it would be quite impossib’e for them at present to report definitely as to the prospect of beetroot sugar manufacture in this district, or to reduce to absolute figures the cost and probable profits of 'the proposed undertaking. Before this can bo done and a really reliable report produced it will be essential —first, that much more explicit information than any at present at command should be obtained with respect to the cost of plant and erection of same ; and secondly, that it should be ascertained by actual experiment what per centage of sugar may be calculated on in beets grown in this district. But while for the reasons stated your Committee are unable to recommend that any attempt should be made to establish the industry in question until much more minute enquiry has been made, they have been able so far to examine the subject as to draw certain general conclusions which they think it will be desirable to state. Assuming the accuracy of the figures respecting this industry laid before the Assembly in 1876, there can be no question of its being immensely prefitable when carried on in a suitable locality with a safe market at hand. As to the market in Hew Zealand, it may be mentioned that last year the amount of money sent out of the colony for sugar, reached the enormous sum of L 509,110, and that upon the sugar so imported the duty paid was L 85,733. As far as can at present be judged, there is no liklihood of the existing duty being further reduced : but on the contrary, it seems far more probable in the present financial position of New Zealand, that the former duty of a penny per pound will be again imposed. Nor, on the other hand, is it at all likely that any excise duty would at present be imposed upon sugar manufactured in the colony. It is evident from the figures above stated, that the consumption of sugar within' the colony is so large that the manufacture would need to be on a considerable scale to supply even a very small fraction of the demand. There need therefore, be no anxiety felt as to the probable market, provided the manufacturers can supply a good article at a somewhat cheaper rate than imported sugar. The figures which your Committee have been able to examine point strongly to the conclusion that this can be done, and that a large margin of profit will remain after making every allowance for the higher cost of labor and other requisites in the colony than on the Continent. The capital necessary to start a sugar factory upon such a scale as would hold out a reasonable hope of success cannot be estimated at less than L 50,000. Being aware of the difficulty of obtaining the necessai'y funds for ventures of this nature within the colony, your Committee think it will be desirable to ascertain if there would be a prospect, in the event of a company being started to undertake the manufacture, of enlisting the assistance of English capitalists. This with . the permission of the Association they propose to do. So far as preliminary enquiries among agriculturists of experience in the district can be accepted as a guide, there is no doubt that the soil and climate ot Ashburton district are eminently suitable for the growth of the beet. A circular was sent some weeks ago to a number of those gentlemen, asking them if they would consent to put down a small experimental patch of beetroot during the present season, and informing them that some of the proper seed (White Silesian) had been procured. So little interest, however, appears to be taken on the subject that not a single answer has been received to any of these circulars. Your Committee have, nevertheless, hopes of being able to carry out the object sought, by other means, and thus to obtain samples for analysis from various points in the district. Your Committee further beg to state that enquiries have been sot afoot in Europe, with a view to obtaining that additional information on their subject of enquiry which as above stated, will be absolutely indispensable before an exhauativc report on the matter can be made. Your Committee then hope to be able to submit to the Association a further and more satisfactory report. In conclusion, your Committee desire to state that they have not thought it necessary to dwell at length on the immense advantages which would accrue to the district from the successful acclimatisation here of the beet sugar manufacture. It may, however, be well to mention that the benefits are not confined to the mere cheapening of sugar, or to the retention and expenditure within the colony of the money now sent abroad for the purchase of that article. The collateral advantages must not be lost sight of. These are the immense improvement to the soil where the beet crops are grown—an invariable result on the continent—and also the use
of the pulp for cattle food, for which purpose it has been shown by incontestable evidence to be most valuable. There are many other matters upon which your Committee'would desire to express their views when they present their final report. In the meanwhile they can only ask the Association to extend the time for bringing up that report until full information is to hand.— H. Fbiedlandeii, Chairman.
Report of Flax Committee of Ashburton Local Industries Association. —Your Committee beg to report that they are satisfied from information placed at their disposal 'that the flax industry, if properly carried out will be an exceedingly remunerative one. Unfortunately the season is too far advanced for your Committee to hope to induce farmers generally to make an experiment, but Mr. C. Braddcll, who has taken great interest in the matter, has made arrangements for a certain quantity of the plant to be grown, and intends sending Homo samples of the fibre to Ireland in order to ascertain the probable price it will realise. From all your Committee can learn, the plant has hitherto only been grown for the seed, and the straw thrown away, hut as the best qualities of the fibre are worth considerably more than LIOO per ton, and the machinery required for cleaning it sufficiently for transit is simple and inexpensive, it is thought that the cultivation of the plant for the fibre alone should be very remunerative. It will be necessary to procure the best description of seed, to give the experiment a fair chance, and for that and other enquiries your Committee request an extension of time. The seed is exceedingly valuable both for the oil which is extracted from it and also for the refuse, which, made into oil-cake, is readily saleable for cattle feeding, and not only forms the most fattening feed known, but when digested by the cattle is the most valuable of manures. The mills are of most simple construction, which are used for the extraction of the oil, and are generally turned by water power. In conclusion, they again beg to state that from all they can learn from gentlemen from the North of Ireland, the flax industry, which has enriched .all countries where it has been carried on, will prove a great success if intelligently conducted in the Ashburton County.— H. C. Jacobson, Convener.
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