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Having filled up, to a great extent, the gap I have just alluded to, I approach my subject.
The year 1883 set in under good auspices. The plentiful rains that fell promised a rich harvest, and invited an enlargement of the scale of exports, guaranteed by the tranquillity that reigned in the country in consequence of the submission of a large number of nomad tribes who are engaged in agriculture. Although one cannot as yet decide the importance of the wheat crops, it is known, however, that the quantity of the grains may be estimated in the eleven districts and the Chiftilik Hamayouni (imperial property), at about 185,000 shombols each, the total yield of which may be valued at about 2,775,000 shombols (511,293,750 pounds). This quantity does not constitute an abundant harvest, but a pretty good middling one. The spring rains having failed in some localities, the products of the said localities have suffered considerably.
Although it is impossible to be able to state by reliable data the progress that agriculture has made during the last ten years, one may however, in an approximative way, derive a consequence from the ascending scale of the official figures, relating to the tithes collected in the saryack of Aleppo, which I have been able to get, and may be summed up as follows for the ten following Turkish fiscal years:
The last figure is plain enough to show the importance of the realized progress which, in my opinion, will stop unless it be promptly sustained by the establishment of means (ways) of communication tending to secure the exportation toward the sea under conditions of a nature to allow a regular exportation, because the beasts of burden, numbering, on an average, 4,500 camels and 1,500 mules, designated for transports between Aleppo and Alexandretta, cannot transport in a certain lapse of time but a limited quantity, too small comparatively with the prod
This remark leads me to bring to your notice the fact that the hope entertained respecting the construction of the road between Aleppo and Alexandretta, which our governor-general, his excellency Djemile Pasha, pushed on as actively as possible, came to an end in consequence of a concession granted some time time ago to a French company, as I had the honor to inform you before, to establish a railroad between Antioch and Suedieh. That question, in all its commercial aspect, seems to be stopped in its development, and has had for its only result to fetter the works of the road between Aleppo and Alexandretta, a part of which might, with a little repair, be handed over in working order in a short time.
Wheat. The situation of this article has continually been good. The demand during the last six months was well maintained for Italy as well as for France. Prices fluctuate between 20 and 20.50 francs per 100 kilograms franco on board at Alexandretta. The crops in Europe promise to be good. The demand has this month greatly slackened, and it is therefore contemplated that the exportation of that article can only be effected on the basis of 17 francs per 100 kilograms on board at Alexandretta. The agricultural people are expecting to see a fall take place which shall be in harmony with these prices.
As regards barley, sesame, castor beans, and cotton, no exports were effected. Barley does not suit for exportation; petty charges overwhelm it. Sesame, as well as castor beans, being neglected in many districts, is of no importance. Cottons, in their turn, are going through a critical period. Being overrated by the Indian cottons, they are no more fit for exportation, and the interest attached to them is confined to this locality.
Pistachios.-The last year not having been a year of crops, that article failed almost completely. The blossoms of this year promised much, when suddenly an unexpected frost came and fully destroyed the crops of that article. In the side of Roum-Kaleh the damages were less, and a certain quantity of products is consequently expected from that quarter.
Olives.-Up to this time the trees, overloaded with fruit, promise an abundance of oil which exceeds by far the ordinary crop. However, one cannot put much trust therein, as three days of the hamsin (sirocco wind) are sufficient to reduce all these hopes to naught.
Butter.-Plentiful rains and a comparatively high temperature, having reigned all over this winter furnish the flocks with rich pastures. The births among sheep were numerous, which made butter to be also abundant. The butter exported to Egypt had its prices maintained between 28 and 30 piasters per rotlin of 2 okes (or $1 and $1.4 per 63 pounds). In the sheep market an exceptional activity and prices continually high were prevailing.
Oxen.-The situation of the oxen market, the center of which is Alexandretta, is not yet well determined. Arrivals from Persia have scarcely begun. The demand for Egypt is good, and one may anticipate that prices will be 90 or 100 francs per head. These oxen generally weigh from 90 to 110 okes each (2471 to 302 pounds).
Wool. The article is fine; fleeces are rich and comparatively clean. At the beginning of the campaign (crop) the demand was good. This article having been entirely abandoned by the manufacturers of Roubaix and Tourcoing, in France, found its market in the United States (as I had the honor to submit to you before). The fall in prices reached that article even in the markets of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Up to this time no direct demand has been made on this market and no shipment accompanied by a consular invoice has as yet been effected. However, about 2,500 bales reached the port of Alexandretta and were shipped partly for Smyrna and partly for Liverpool, from where the said wools, I presume, will be forwarded to the American markets, where that article is of an important use for carpet manufacturing, while the European consumption is confined to making mattresses. The actual prices are between 124 and 126 francs per 100 kilograms, on board at Alexandretta.
Nutgalls-After a period of activity and rise in prices this article has fallen into a perfect decline. Green and black 115 to 130 francs per 100
kilograms free on board at Alexandretta, according to quality; green, 100 francs; black, sorted, 140 to 145 francs; white, 90 to 110 francs.
Transactions were pretty active during the two last quarters in almost all kinds of articles, owing to the certain ease enjoyed by this country by the advantageous realization of its raw products. Profits were not, however, in harmony with that activity. The fall that sucessively befell the cottons has had an influence on the yarns and raw tis sues, the result of which was a continuous disappointment in every liqui dation of those articles, a disappointment compensated by the good holding of Scottish articles and those of Bradford.
Linen tissues, such as cloth, novelties, Turkish caps (fez), have been regularly holding firm, and their consumption is tending to be developed gradually as the country enjoys more ease and tranquillity.
This market was formerly tributary of France for all those articles; it imports them nowadays exclusively from Austria and Germany, the commerce of which is more and more taking ground in these countries.
Paper of all kinds and sugar were also taken away from France by Austria, also lots of ironmongery articles, even a good deal of manufactured silk stuffs, so that a large part of the French articles of industry has been superseded by the Austrian products. Transactions with France are now almost solely limited to colonial products.
There is nothing special to point out to you, Mr. Consul, as regards American commerce, the entry of which into this province is but recent, and is confined to the sale of petroleum and the purchase of wools, which is made by second hands.
The petroleum business has followed, during the last six months, a regular course; fluctuations were of little consequence.
Ever since the Egyptian insurrection was subdued the industrial classes of Aleppo set themselves to work and were able to meet their engagements without disaster. The situation, however, is not very satisfactory, as the stuffs of this province are still more menaced in their existence since the Russo-Turkish war, that has detached from the Ottoman Empire so many provinces where those stuffs used to be sold. Confidence not being yet well established in Egypt, the affairs there are suffering from an uneasiness which if prolonged would prompt a crisis. F. POCHE, Consular Agent.
UNITED STATES CONSULAR AGENCY,
Aleppo, September 30, 1883.
Report by Consul Merrill, of Jerusalem, on the commerce and trade of Pal estine for the year 1883.
It is hardly possible to prepare an annual report upon the commercial and business affairs of this country without commencing with the rainfall. When the rains are uniform and ample, this is a land of plenty; when they are cut off, great hardship and suffering ensue, and sometimes famine.
During the last winter there were continued periods of rainy weather, and the amount of rainfall was large. Springs, reservoirs, and cisterns were filled, and everybody was rejoicing in the prospect of a prosperous year. When the spring came, however, the "latter" rains, without which the crops are likely to perish, were cut off, and the grain withered before it was half developed. The inevitable consequences followed-a poor crop, high prices for wheat, and suffering among the poorer classes of the population.
In the lengthy report upon the climate of Palestine which I made to the Department in my dispatch No. 26 of the present year (1883) I devoted one section to showing the price of wheat as connected with the amount of the rainfall year by year for a period of twenty-two years. This, it seemed to me, might prove, from a commercial point of view, of general interest.
WAR AND THE CHOLERA.
Two other circumstances have largely interfered with the business and prosperity of the country for two years past, namely, the war in Egypt last year and the cholera in that country during the present year. Palestine is so closely connected with Egypt that whatever affects the latter country affects also Palestine. The natural connection of the business and commerce as well as of most of the other interests of this country is with Egypt, and not with Constantinople or Turkey.
QUARANTINE AND STAGNATION IN BUSINESS.
So far as business is concerned, the cholera and quarantine have proved far more injurious than the war. People here were almost panic-stricken. They dreaded the approach of the cholera, but, unlike the inhabitants of Beirut, they had no mountains, with a healthy climate, near them, to which they could flee for refuge. A severe and exacting quarantine in the East means stagnation in all kinds of business; consequensly there have been, during the summer at least, no imports or exports, and no travel. Multitudes of people have been out of employment, incomes have been reduced, and the cost of living has been greatly increased. That an Oriental and consequently half barbarian style of regulating a quarantine can practically isolate Palestine from the rest of the world may be learned from the fact that letters from Paris, London, and Berlin have been forty-four full days in reaching Jerusalem, when the time ordinarily required is eight or ten days. Notwithstanding the near approach of cholera, the health of Palestine has been in general good; certainly there has not been, nor is there at present, any disease which should deter travelers from coming here, or which need interfere with the natural course of business.
PARTIAL FAILURE OF THE WHEAT CROP.
In regard to the failure of the "latter" rains, not all portions of the country suffered equally. On the great plains, which are depended upon for the main supply of wheat, the crop was bad. In the mountains the damage done was less severe.
As soon as it was known certainly that the wheat crop was to be short, the price rose rapidly, and there began at once to be suffering among the poorer classes. When the new crop began to come in, it was immediately bought up and held by the "middle-men," who are one of the curses of this country, and the sufferings of the poorer classes were only aggra
vated thereby. The quarantine, which has caused so much injury to the country in general, has, by preventing all exports, been indirectly of service by keeping in the country itself whatever wheat was raised. The wheat crop is estimated as being 40 per cent. less than that of last year, while the barley crop, as compared with that of last year, is about one-third of the amount. The duna crop, the kind of maize that is raised here, has been good, which is not always the case when the "latter" rains are abundant.
One effect of the high price of barley, for instance, is that animals are unusually cheap. With the price of barley one-third to one-half above the ordinary rates, a donkey or a horse will soon "eat itself up," and those who own them are glad at such times to dispose of them for merely a nominal sum.
PUBLIC REVENUE AND IMPROVEMENTS.
The income for the district of Palestine for the last fiscal year was 90,000 Turkish liras, or 10,000 less than the amount reported last year. This is chiefly due to the partial failure of the wheat crop.
The income from the Jaffa road for the past year was 1,450 Turkish liras, this being 300 liras less than the year previous, which is explained by the fact that the quarantine has for so many months stopped almost entirely the business of exporting and importing, and all travel, and this of course checks the traffic upon the road. The road itself is in a worse condition than it was a year ago, although some feeble efforts have been made during the summer to repair it. Just now there is, on the part of the Government, a spasm of enthusiasm in regard to it, and 800 fellaheen and 1,000 camels have been impressed to put it into better condition. But about road-making the fellaheen are as ignorant as the camels, nor have the officials in charge of the laborers any but the rudest conception of what a road should be or how one should be made; consequently little is expected from this apparently mighty effort. Perhaps it should be stated that all labor upon this road, except that of the officials, is forced labor.
BUILDING IN JERUSALEM.
The following table will show what has been done. in the way of repairs and new buildings during the past year. It will be understood that whatever is done under the head of "repairs" and "additions" requires a permit from the Government no less than new houses. The Government tax is from 1 to 20 mejedies (a mejedie is 91 cents in American money), according to the size of the new house or the amount of work that must be done upon an old one. The tax is higher than it has been in previous years, and this fact, together with the scarcity of money and the stagnation in all kinds of business, has made the building operations in the city somewhat more limited than they were last year. Permits within the city walls: Repairs, 20; additions, 22; new houses, 8. Permits outside the city walls: Repairs, 30; additions, 22; new houses, 21. New houses, 29; additions, 44; repairs, 50; total, 123.
CROWDED HOUSES AND THE INFLUX OF JEWS.
Jerusalem is one of the most crowded cities of the East. There is not room enough to give one-half the population a decent place to live in. Multitudes of the inhabitants live in hived houses, or, more properly,