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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

French and Italian buyers in Resht


The

cocoon trade had until recently been almost entirely in the hands of Armenian, French and Italian buyers in Resht, but now many Persian merchants have begun to export bales of cocoons direct to Marseilles and Milan, the two chief markets for silk, an export duty of 5 per cent. on their value being imposed on them by the Persian Government. The cocoons are made to travel by the shortest routes, _via_ the Caspian, Baku, Batum, and the Black Sea.

The year 1900 seems to have been an exceptionally good year for the production and export of cocoons. The eggs for the production of silkworms are chiefly imported by Levantines from Asia Minor (Gimlek and Brussa), and also in small quantities from France. According to the report of Mr. Churchill, Acting-Consul at Resht, the quantity of cocoons exported during that year showed an increase of some 436,800 lbs. above the quantity exported the previous year (1899); and a comparison between the quantity exported in 1893 and 1900 will show at a glance the enormous apparent increase in the export of dried cocoons from Ghilan.

1893 76,160 lbs. Value L6,475 1900 1,615,488 " " L150,265

It must, however, be remembered that the value given for 1893 may be very incorrect.

Large meadows with cattle grazing upon them; wheat fields, vegetables of all sorts, vineyards, all pass before my

eyes as in a kaleidoscope. A fine country indeed for farmers. Plenty of water--even too much of it,--wood in abundance within a stone's throw.

Next to the silk worms, rice must occupy our attention, being the staple food of the natives of Ghilan and constituting one of the principal articles of export from that province.

The cultivation and the export of rice from Ghilan have in the last thirty years become very important, and will no doubt be more so in the near future, when the mass of jungle and marshes will be cleared and converted into cultivable land. The Governor-General of Resht is showing great energy in the right direction by cutting new roads and repairing old ones on all sides, which ought to be of great benefit to the country.

In Persia, remember, it is not easy to learn anything accurately. And as for Persian statistics, unwise is the man who attaches any importance to them. Much as I would like to quote statistics, I cannot refrain from thinking that no statistics are a hundredfold better than slip-shod, haphazard, inaccurate ones. And this rule I must certainly apply to the export of rice from Ghilan to Europe, principally Russia, during 1900, and will limit myself to general remarks.

Extensive tracts of country have been cleared of reeds and useless vegetation, and converted into paddy fields, the natives irrigating the country in a primitive fashion.

It is nature that is mostly responsible if the crops are not ruined year after year, the thoughtless inhabitants, with their natural laziness, doing little more than praying Allah to give them plenty of rain, instead of employing the more practical if more laborious expedient of artificially irrigating their country in some efficient manner, which they could easily do from the streams close at hand. Perhaps, in addition to this, the fact that water--except rain-water--has ever to be purchased in Persia, may also account to a certain extent for the inability to afford paying for it. In 1899, for instance, rain failed to come and the crops were insufficient even for local consumption, which caused the population a good deal of suffering. But 1900, fortunately, surpassed all expectations, and was an excellent year for rice as well as cocoons.


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