Mills of Fiji


Punjas flour mill: modern flour mill: [photo] [info] [photo] [photo] [photo]


Butoni wind farm: wind farm:

A small wind farm of 37 turbines, opened in 2007. The turbines are 2-bladed, downstream rotors, and since they have a hinged tower can be winched down to lay horizontally on the ground in times of expected cyclonic winds. The farm is largely experiemntal, and is not ideally situated in the best location for power generation.

[info] [info] [info] [info] [photo] [photo] [photos]

cotton gins


Otago Daily Times, Issue 799, 11 July 1864

A correspondent in the Fiji Islands remarks that the natives generally throughout Fiji are planting cotton more or less, and several European residents have turned their whole attention to cotton planting, but, from the almost total absence of capital, none of the plantations are large, averaging 10 to 15 acres. One managed by Mr Storck, formerly assistant to Dr Leeman, the Government botanist - who visited Fiji in 1861 - is above twenty acres, now in the third year; and Mr Storck estimates the yield will be a ton per acre this year. One cotton-gin has been erected, the motive power applied being a windmill, and it does its work well; and two or three more are in course of erection. But the Fijis will never produce cotton in sufficient quantity to make a stir - labor is too precarious.
New Zealand Herald, Volume I, Issue 298, 26 October 1864
The following description of life in Fiji has been kindly handed to us for publication by a gentleman resident in this city :- Levuka, 18th July, 1864.
In your letter of last February you request information relative to the capabilities of Fiji generally. I will state a few facts that may give you some idea of the place.
Cocoanut oil has been almost hitherto the principal article of export from these islands; at present cotton is the rage, and about 5000 acres are now under cultivation altogether, and many of our cotton farms are conducted very respectably by white people, who have an interest in the produce. Next year a considerable quantity of most superior cotton will be sent herefrom to Sydney, and although cotton may fall quickly on the settlement of the American war it could be produced in Fiji as cheaply as in any part of the world. Our cotton tree bears for seven years, and after that would require fresh planting. The yield is from 600 pounds to 2000 pounds per acre. We pack our cotton in wool bales, each containing about 260 pounds clean ginned cotton. I have been putting up a windmill to turn cotton gins, and have cleaned about thirty bales, which was sent to Sydney and realised two shillings per pound, and from the great quantity grown by natives and white settlers, my friend Mr. ---- will send up directly thereto about 100 bales. Next year the quantity shipped will be something considerable, and may possibly then offer some inducement to the Government to take us under its protection. The windmill referred to now cleans about 520 pounds cotton, or two bales, per diem.
Daily Southern Cross, Volume XX, Issue 2299, 2 December 1864
The industrial products of the archipelago appeared to be decidedly on the increase. Coffee trees had been produced so extensively that they were being sold in bundles of a hundred each.
Cotton planting had also greatly increased. In nine months, 110,000lbs. of cotton, in seed, had been purchased by the dealers at an average price of 4d per lb. This, too, was considered the lesser half of what would be produced during the year. Two or three windmills, were in frequent operation for the purpose of cleaning cotton.
A great quantity of cocoa-nut fibre was being prepared for the stuffing of mattiesses, &c. One party had as much as fifty tons of it on hand.
New Zealand Herald, Volume V, Issue 1386, 27 April 1868
The varieties of cotton cultivated in Fiji are three in number, vis., Kidney, Egyptian, and Sea Island, for the two former an average of 9d. and 10d. per lb. has been obtained at this port, and far the latter, 1s. per lb. To the present time no definite report has been made by the cotton brokers regarding the quality of Fijian cotton.
The coming year will no doubt see these Islands advance steadily in the path of prosperity. Large sums of money have lately been invested by men possessing the means to enter extensively into agricultural pursuits. A company is in the course of formation for the purpose of cultivating sugar in the Island of Taviuni, the soil of which is peculiar in richness and fertility. From the high opinion competent judges entertain of the sugar cane now grown by the Natives, no doubt can be entertained of the success that will attend the undertaking.


Under this head it is satisfactory to report some improvement. In cotton more care is now taken in the selection of seed, in the preparation of the ground, and cultivating the plant. ...
Sea Island cotton is generally planted in rows 6ft. by 6ft., but some planters are drilling as in America, the rows being 5ft. and the plants 30in. apart. This variety grows much faster and arrives at maturity sooner than any other. I hare observed the first blossoms upon a tree one month after planting: at the end of the second month the blossoms fell and the bolls appeared: at the end of the third month the bolls reached maturity, and the cotton was ready for gathering. The most experienced growers estimate each healthy tree will produce annually five pounds weight of seed cotton. There are three crops of this variety during the year: the first in January or February, the second in May or June, the third in September or October. The vicissitudes of the seasons, however, will forward or retard the ripening of the crop by a month. In ginning, this cotton loses two-thirds of its gross weight; 300 lbs. of seed cotton producing 100 lbs. of clean. Assuming that each tree would produce three pounds of seed cotton - one pound of clean fibre - one shilling, and that an an acre of land planted 6ft. by 6ft., carries 1,031 trees the gross value anually per acre would be £51. 11s.
The demand for Sea Island cotton is limited, but the diminished production of this variety in America, owing to the disorganization of labour, will probably afford the Fijian planter an opportunity of selling all he can produce at a remunerative figure for some time to come.
The Kidney and Egyptian cotton is of much larger growth, requiring to be planted 12ft. by 12ft. It is sown in the same months as the Sea Island. The picking season is in July. A second and lighter crop can be gathered in December. The average yield of this cotton is 1,200 lbs. per acre, yielding about 350 lbs. of clean fibre, the value of which, in Fiji, is about £15 sterling.
All varieties of cotton in Fiji are perennial.
Three years back there were only two cotton gins and windmill in all Fiji; at the present date there are about thirty gins, and five steam engines.
For short stapled cottons the saw gins are preferred, and for the longer, "knife gins."
New Zealand Herald, Volume X, Issue 3616, 13 June 1873
From a late Fiji Times to hand we extract the following :- "For Sale. - The island of Nananu-I-Cake, with fourteen head of imported labour, a new M'Carty 40in. knife gin, iron house, windmill, whaleboat, &c. About sixty acres have been recently planted with cotton. Apply by letter, stating method of payment, to Dr. M'Grath, care of J. C. Smith and Co., Levuka." The Fiji Gazette animadverts upon Dr. M'Grath in no measured terms for his assumed right to sell "fourteen head of imported labour," and asks, "Does Dr. M'Grath imagine that men in Fiji are to be sold like cattle? Does he know that by common law the sale of a human being is illegal, and that the purchaser is not bound to pay for his purchase? Up to the present time the doctor seems to have vouchsafed no reply, acting, perhaps, upon the principle that when you have nothing to say, the best way is to treat the matter with silent contempt.


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