PHILIPPINES VETIVER NETWORK (VETINETPHIL)


The Vetiver Network, Philippines was established in December 1996. It is administered by Mr. Edwin Balbarino of The Farm Resource Management Institute (FARMI), ViSCA, Baybay, Leyte, The Philippines. Email address: "Balbarino Edwin"<v+visca@sat.vitanet.org>

Persons interested in supporting this network and participating in its work should comntact directly Edwin Balbarino


Background

The Philippine is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands. Its land area is 30,000,000 hectares, about two-thirds of which is hilly and mountainous. About 15 percent of the alienable and disposable lands are vulnerable to erosion.

In the past, upland areas were covered with tropical rainforest vegetation and human population was sparsely disributed. Few problems existed in these upland areas. However, given an increasing human population, together with indiscriminate exploitation of the forest the uplands have become marginal and less capable of sustaining productivity and supporting the basic needs of human society (Sajise 1986).

Deforestation and improper land use are predominant in the Philippine upland These are primarily responsible for accelerated soil erosion that has resulted to severe loss of the top soil, deterioration of agricultural lands, reduced water supply, increased occurrence of flooding and increased sedimentation of rivers, lakes and reservoirs. The acceleration of environmental degradation in the uplands is also attributed to soil-degrading farming practices.

Today, areas affected by agricultural degradation area characterized by barren denuded hills and mountains with very few remaining trees and mainly vegetated with Imperata cylindrica and brush.

Vetiver grass against soil erosion

Soil erosion is caused by the washing down of the soil during heavy rains. Erosion can be checked by putting up a physical structures and live barriers across the farm scope. There are several options for contour farming using live barriers. One of these is Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides). Vetiver had been tried and studies by some upland projects in the Philippines. Researchers found out that among the different grass and leguminous tree shrub hedgerow species, Vetiver is the most effective controlling soil erosion because of its unique physical characteristics. As a result, Vetiver technology has been recommended in the Philippines and included in the Agroforestry Technology Information Kit (ATIK) published by IIRR, DENR and Ford Foundation in 1992.

The Need for a Network

Some upland development projects and farmers in the Philippines started usingVetiver grass some decades ago. Vetiver has been used in stabilizing rice field dikes and irrigation canals. One of these projects that did research on Vetiver is the Farm and Resource Management Institute (FARMI) at ViSCA, Baybay, Leyte. After five years of testing Vetiver to control erosion, farmers and project staff arrived at a common conclusion of Vetiver's effectiveness in controlling soil erosion. From these experiences, a Cebuano (local dialect) Vetiver Technoguide was published. Aside from FARMI, there are now many agencies, projects, farmers using Vetiver in their farms. Just in Eastern Visayas alone, Vetiver is now being used in 5 upland development projects namely: Upland Extrapolation Project in Baybay, Leyte, Integrated Rootcrop Project in Pinabacdao, Samar. Cassava Production Project in Bontoc, southern Leyte and Small Island Agricultural Support Services Program in Biliran Province. Demand for planting materials has increased tremendously. Several programs reported that Vetiver is being used throughout the Philippines. In the recent years these Vetiver development programs have accomplished the following:

Vetiver nurseries and demonstration farms.
Vetiver seminars, trainings and workshops.
Distribution of planting materials.
Publication of a technoguide.
Presentation of Vetiver papers in national and international symposia.
Vetiver poster presentations.
Studies on the Vetiver applications arid management.
Using Vetiver in agroforestry projects with corn, vegetables, trees (fruit and timber trees) and rootcrops.

Using Vetiver in various uses (roof, medicine, etc.).
Vetiver in Agroforestry Technology Kits.
Vetiver in SWC projects winning in regional and national contest.

While these reports about Vetiver have been received and circulated around the country and outside, there is no information service specific to Vetiver available in the country. Because of this, thousands of upland development institutions and related projects/organizations are still unfamiliar with the grass.

Aside from this, there are tremendous body of knowledge/information generated by Vetiver users and research centers around the world that need to be made available to upland development extension workers and project administrators and upland farmers in the Philippines.

In the domestic front, there is a need to have an organized and well coordinated research and extension projects on Vetiver. What is urgently needed is an extension program and information sharing about the miracle that Vetiver can give to rehabilitate the Philippine uplands.

To do all of these things is difficult unless a Vetiver network in the Philippines will be
establ ished .

Network ojectives

To increase interaction among Vetiver users (farmers organization, extension workers and researchers) and encourage exchanger of experiences, knowledge and skill in using Vetiver.

To facilitate collaborative Vetiver research and extension projects amonq Vetiver user/ potential network members.

To disseminate Vetiver technology to a wider circle of farmers and organizations in the Philippines
To share Philippine experience on Vetiver to other parts of the world

The establishment of the Network

Philippine Vetiver Network is to be developed based on and in cooperation with existing Vetiver users and other agricultural networks in the Philippines. Some of the existing related networks are the conservation Farming Movement, Agroforestry and Forestry Network and the conservation Farming for the Tropical Uplands Program.

The following activities will be conducted:

Inventory of Vetiver users in the Philippines.

Publication of a Vetiver Newsletter in English.

Publication of Vetiver Fact Sheets in English and in major dialects.

Translation of the Cebuano Vetiver Technoguide published by FARMI into English, and Tagalog.

English publications will be distributed to universities, agricultural projects, local and national agriculture and forestry agencies and institutions and networks outside Philippines.

Conduct simple on-farm experiment on Vetiver using graduate and undergraduate students and existing research projects.

Holding of national and sub-national meetings and workshops for farmers, researchers and extension workers.

Organize field tours to Vetiver demonstration/ project sites

Expansion of nurseries and demonstration farms in selected sites in the Philippines.

Strengthen domestic information exchange with other agriculture, forestry and resource management networks (national and international).

Publish Vetiver news articles in national papers.

conduct farmer-to-farmer training.