Thursday, 26 March 2015

Bulb Growing - A Great Success

Here’s an article from Jersey Topic in 1967, which just shows how easy it is to be right in the short term, but wrong in the long term.

I remember when we sometimes went up to the Le Feuvre’s farm in St Lawrence when we were growing up, and how we would see the fields were full of flowers for that export market – that would have probably been in the 1970s. In those days, the flowers for the Battle of Flowers were mainly sourced locally – why import when you were already growing plenty, and there was sufficient surplus?

But that success story has now gone completely. Flowers are imported from Holland for the Battle of Flowers. There are no longer any fields full of vibrant flowers in April, May, June. The one legacy may be the daffodils which proliferate on the edges of fields, perhaps the last bulbs dumped there when the fields were turned back to use for growing crops or cattle grazing.

Bulb Growing - A Great Success
From Jersey Topic, 1967

The greatest success story in Jersey in recent years has, of course, been that of bulb and the flower growers, who recently held their extremely novel and fruitful Spring Show at Hotel de France.

In the last three years, exports of flowers have increased by almost a third, from £678,000 to £865,000.

It is conceivable in the years ahead the total value of flower exports may reach that of tomatoes.

Much of the merit for this success goes to the former presidents Mr. Arthur Adkins and Mr John Le Gallais. Their drive was matched by the untiring and business like energy of the young, now retired, Secretary of the J.B. &F.A.

Mr John Le Sueur has been equally successful in his own private venture which he has brought up from small beginnings to a flourishing business.

While the transporting of potatoes and tomatoes, on the whole, presents few problems as regards availability of ships, flower and cattle exports do run up against formidable difficulties.

Mr. Dick Byman, Chairman of the new limited company formed by the bulb and flower growers for the express purpose of finding reliable air transporters, told me that at times, some three hundred growers may be found queuing at the docks or at the Airport in the hope of getting their fragile flowers away. With the yearly increase in exports, the crush would get much worse. "We want organised transport, not individual scrambles," said Mr. Byman.

The week of the Mothering Sunday and the week before that the flood of flowers leaving the island was such that the growers new Transport Company with its Secretary-Transport manager Mr. A. Greenlee, had to charter no fewer than six aircraft. Here is enterprise for you.

The cattle exporters are in an even more difficult position. Shipping companies fight shy of taking on cattle, except in large numbers. Also sea carriage is prohibitively expensive. So, here again, a special Sub-Committee of Cattle Exporters, with Mr. John Vint as its Secretary, is studying ways of finding air transport instead.

Their thoughts are turning towards appointing an expert agent from the travel and air cargo profession who would co-ordinate transport for them.

An aircraft, chartered and paid for on a single flight basis, can be, Mr. Vint told me, considerably cheaper than carriage by sea which now costs up to £20 per cow to Southampton.

One of the snags of transporting cattle to Britain by air is, however, that Coventry Airport is at present the only one having a lairage.

With so many branches of our agriculture depending so much on transport to get their goods to the markets as cheaply and quickly as possible, one wonders if the day is not too far distant when the States will set up a special committee to deal with transport in a comprehensive and systematic way! If the Common Market comes, this may become a question of survival!

It is now generally known that the Committee of Agriculture intends to set up a Semen Bank and A.I. [. Centre, probably at the States Farm in Trinity. Many people say that selling our best cattle abroad is giving away our best assets, Be that as it may, one thing, though, is certain, that all the daughters of registered bulls will have to be recorded otherwise the semen will have no export value nor will it be possible to further our own island strains.

The Committee of Agriculture, under its able Chief Executive Officer. Mr. John Abraham, is enlarging its Advisory Service. Already advisers are active in the spheres of agriculture and farm economics and individual crops profitability. Now, soon, a new adviser is to be engaged to provide expertise in the one sector in which many farmers are no doubt the weakest. That is to advise on Farm Management. The Howard Davis Farm which is to become a practical demonstration station is already the seat of the Farm Advisory Panel under Deputy Major John Riley.

Together with the Horticultural Courses run next door by Mr. Denis Shaw the sails are set in the direction of knowledge and practice.

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