Vetiver Grass -- An International Perspective

Richard G. Grimshaw<1>

Abstract

Vetiver grass, in particular Vetiveria zizanioides, has been known to be a useful plant for man for thousands of years. Its center of origin appears to be in south India. The present interest in vetiver grass for soil and water conservation was initiated by John Greenfield during his assignment with the World Bank in India in the mid 1980s. "Seeing is believing" -- an approach that is central to the dissemination of the technology. Currently hundreds of thousands of hectares of land is conserved using the vetiver hedge technology. Even so there are many potential users who know nothing about this technology because of major failures in government policies in communicating with users, and a failure by some research scientists and institutions to properly exploit this extraordinary grasses' potential. To day 10 years after starting the vetiver initiative in India there are people on our network in 147 countries, and the technology is being used in 106 counties for soil and water conservation purposes. There are about 3,600 individuals, agencies, and institutions who directly participate in the Vetiver Network, and tens of thousands of actual bottom line users who have received help and support from those 3,600 participants. Research work by Yoon, Bharad, Truong, Materne, Laing, Rodriguez, and many others have confirmed its potential as a very successful technology for conservation purposes. Vetiver's ability to grow on many varied, and often hostile sites, that differ greatly in soil type, climate and pH assures a place for this grass in conservation practices in many parts of the world. There are many opportunities for expanded vetiver research. It is no longer a case of "do vetiver hedges work", but rather how can the use of vetiver be expanded for other purposes, and how can the efficiency of the system be improved. There is plenty of exciting work to be done by researchers with fresh ideas and open minds. In summary the rate of adoption of the technology will be determined by the quality and effectiveness of the technology transfer process. It is essential that this process be treated seriously and be properly funded. Written publications will remain an important part of the process for the foreseeable future, and that the hands on training of the end user is essential. The vetiver network has an important to play in this process. It has played a key role in the past in marketing the technology. Local networks should be established with information support and perhaps funding (if available) from the central network. The latter should and is changing its mode of operation to respond to changing funding patterns.

Historical Background

Vetiver grass, in particular the species Vetiveria zizanioides, has been known to be a useful plant for man for thousands of years. It is mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit writings and is part of Hindu mythology. Rural people have used it for centuries for the oil from its roots, for the roots themselves, and the leaves. Its center of origin appears to be in south India and it has spread around the world through its byproduct value as a producer of an aromatic oil for the perfume industry. In the late part of the last century and in this century the sugar industry particularly in the West Indies, the off shore eastern African islands such as Mauritius and Reunion, and Fiji, have used the grass for its conservation properties.

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the use of biological methods for soil and water conservation - mechanical systems didn't work too well and have become increasingly expensive. The present interest in vetiver grass for soil and water conservation was initiated by John Greenfield during his assignment with the World Bank in India in the mid 1980s. It is an interesting story and is worth briefly recounting. During the 1970s and 80's, the Bank, following Robert McNamara's vision of expanding the economic base of the world's rural poor, placed great emphasis in investing in agriculture and natural resource development. For instance in India over 30% of the total Bank lending portfolio was devoted to agriculture, and irrigation in particular. In India, where 70 % of agriculture was dependent solely on rainfall, the Bank and the Indian Government initiated a program to improve rainfed farming and reduce the negative impact of droughts. Such projects included soil conservation programs based on planned development of watersheds. In theory a sensible and respectable approach. However the conservation components were not very successful as they were mainly dependent on engineered conservation systems that were rich in subsidies and poor in farmer participation and understanding -- result -- not much success. At that time I was in charge of a large group of World Bank agriculturists in New Delhi, and I hired John Greenfield to specifically work on these projects and find solutions for a successful outcome. After a few months he told me that he had found Vetiver growing in very dry areas of India and on thin soils. He said that vetiver if grown as a hedge on the contour was the answer for improved soil and water conservation. He had been responsible for using vetiver to control erosion in the sugar areas of Fiji in the 1950s. So I gave him $5,000 and sent him to Fiji to make a video of the results. He returned with an impressive story and some good video, and even better stories from on farm interviews with farmers.

"Seeing is believing" (an approach that is still central to the dissemination of the technology), I was convinced, and then we started in the southern state of Karnataka to introduce the idea. It took time and there was much resistance. The Bank's Indian professionals in New Delhi were interested and excited, and on one of their trips to Karnataka they found, near Mysore at a place called Gundalpet, many farmers who had used vetiver for centuries for boundary delineation and conservation. These farmers had better crops, coped with droughts better, had better ground water, and thus more reliable wells, and lost less soil and nutrients. Their experience was a great boost in getting the interest and attention of scientists and administrators in India. Vetiver grass technology was no longer a World Bank technology but an Indian technology, invented by Indian farmers many years before the World Bank ever came on the scene. The moral of the story is that most Government and Bank officials had never heard of the technology, and worse had probably not even noticed the potential as they regularly drove by those farmers fields in Gundalpet. Furthermore the extension staff in the area had not noticed or even commented on this potential conservation system. On asking farmers how best to spread the knowledge the answer was to use the farmers themselves, sadly at that time we didn't, after all we had T&V!!

Although the Bank was not the inventor, it saw the potential of using the world wide operational base of the Bank to spread the technology all over the world, and that is what we proceeded to do when I returned to Washington in 1987. Today, nearly 10 years later, there are people on our network in 147 countries, and the technology is being used in 106 counties for soil and water conservation purposes (see attached list). There are about 3,600 individuals, agencies, and institutions who directly participate in the Vetiver Network, and tens of thousands of actual bottom line users who have received help and support from those 3,600 participants. We have no record on how much land is actually conserved with vetiver grass; since it is not subsidized and most of its expansion has been done without the support of government, there are no statistics -- my guess is that currently hundreds of thousands of hectares of land is conserved using the vetiver technology. Even so, there are many potential users who know nothing about this technology because of major failures in government policies in communicating with users, and a failure by some research scientists and institutions to properly exploit this extraordinary grass' potential.

The Technology

Vetiveria zizanioides is one of 12 known species of the genus Vetiveria. V. zizanioides originates in south India and is the preferred species for conservation purposes (Vetiveria nigratana is the species common to Africa and is thought to have originated in the Ovambo Swamps of Botswana). The south Indian species has a greater root mass than other species, and produces good quality oil. Thus it was taken around the world for its essential oil value. It so happens that oil quality and quantity fortunately matches conservation quality. Also this species and those cultivars from south India are known to be relatively sterile and therefore do not become invasive. When planted as a hedge across the slope of fields, embankments etc. it acts as a natural barrier that slows down the run off and allows sediments to be deposited behind the barrier, and as a result natural terraces build up behind the hedge which further reduces water velocity, and soil and water losses. Research work by Bharad, Laing, Raju, Rodriguez, Truong, Wang Zizong, Yoon and many others have confirmed its potential as a very successful technology for conservation purposes. Commercial farmer, Maxime Robert, from Natal, South Africa, has over the past six years fully protected his sugar lands and drainage ways using the vetiver technology (Vetiver Newsletter #14)

Vetiver is also used in embankment stabilization and construction engineers are at last starting to show some interest in its use. Yoon (Vetiver Newsletter #13) has ably demonstrated on large scale its application in Malaysia on major and unstable earth works. Others such as Tantum, Labat, and Robert have in southern Africa clearly demonstrated its use for stabilizing the side of roads, waterways, dams, mine dumps etc. In Bangladesh it has been used for years for stabilizing river canal banks, but only recently has this come to the notice of the authorities. In south China vetiver is being tested for river bank and bed stabilization.

More recently vetiver's root system has been recognized for its potential as a phyto-remedial technology (Vetiver Newsletter #13) for removing BODs from sewage, for cleaning up areas high in nitrates and phosphates, and of course many years ago (unfortunately until recently long forgotten) it was used near Lucknow in India for rehabilitating the highly sodic "hussar" lands. The root has been used in many countries in traditional medicine.

Vetiver leaves are well known for their use as good quality thatch. Under careful management vetiver leaves can provide a useful fodder for livestock, and has added advantage that it will survive drought often better than other fodder species.

Vetiver's ability to grow on many varied and often hostile sites, differing greatly in soil type, climate and pH, assures a place for this grass in conservation practices in many parts of the world.

Research

Prior to mid eighties most vetiver research focused on the root system and exploiting the latter for its essential oil value. Very little research had been conducted on its potential for soil and water conservation. It is reported by Eden (Vetiver Newsletter #12) that soil conservation research in relation to reducing erosion in tea gardens was undertaken in the late 40's by the East African Tea Research Institute in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. The results were impressive and at that time Eden considered that the best way of reducing erosion in tea gardens was to use vetiver grass hedges. In 1986 the first research of the use of vetiver for soil and what conservation was started simultaneously in the four states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra under the Bank assisted Rainfed Watershed Development Project. Bharad at Akola, Maharashtra has undertaken the most sustained research (Vetiver Newsletter #12 &13) and more recently has researched its potential in the hydrological cycle of ground water recharge and the re-use of such recharge. Other good research (Vetiver Newsletter #12) and testing has been undertaken by Mahnot in the dry areas of Rajasthan, and by Kumar and his colleagues in wetter Orissa (Eastern India).

In the US, Mike Materne (Vetiver Newsletter #8) has done some practical research in Louisiana and as a result the USARS has set up a program of research in the use of stiff grass hedges for soil conservation. It is also about to officially release the non flowering Louisiana cultivar of vetiver, sometimes known as the 'Sunshine' accession. Because vetiver will not survive the intense continental winter coldness ARS has identified some other interesting grasses such as switch and eastern gamma grass that have somewhat similar capability. as vetiver for soil and moisture conservation. The technology is being set to standards and will soon become a standard practice in the US.

In Australia Paul Truong and his colleagues of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries researched the pH (Vetiver Newsletter #6) and Manganese tolerances of vetiver and has now switched to researching the grass' conservation potential on the Darling Downs and elsewhere (Vetiver Newsletters #13 &14)).

P.K.Yoon over a period of about 6 years undertook some outstanding and practical research in Malaysia (Vetiver Newsletter #10). His work was the first really large scale demonstrations on how vetiver can be used for a wide variety of purposes. He researched the growing habits of the plant, developed multiplication systems, demonstrated the need for quality planting of vetiver, the need for standards, and most recently its use in highway embankment and stabilization programs. In recognition of this outstanding work he received the King of Thailand's Award for the most outstanding research of vetiver (Vetiver Newsletter #10).

In Thailand the Royal Development Projects Board, under the initiative of His Majesty the King of Thailand, has done some exceptional work on identifying different vetiver cultivars, their phenotypes, ecotypes, and their application to a wide range of uses (Vetiver Newsletter #11). Some very good work has been done in tissue culture multiplication and vetiver has been tested under many different conditions and for different purposes. The scale of the Thai research and testing program is impressive and covers practically every eco-system and potential use in the country. This program was well funded, and was supported by the very top people in the country. It is also an example of how much time was saved by learning from others. The Thais took every opportunity in picking up from where others have gone before, and have been just as generous themselves in sharing and teaching people from other countries what they have developed and accomplished in Thailand.

In China (Vetiver Newsletter #8) there has been an on going research into vetiver since 1988. Results confirm its effectiveness in southern China, and its application is now expanding under the Bank funded Red Soils Project, which covers six of China's southern provinces. The South China Institute of Botany should be singled out for its interesting and useful vetiver research for land reclamation in Guangdong Province.

In Central and South America the use of vetiver and related research is on the rise. Rodriguez (Vetiver Newsletter #13) compared vetiver to other species in Venezuela for soil conservation, and work initiated by Douglas Laing of CIAT (Vetiver Newsletter #8)is important as it was the first carefully controlled experimental work carried out in South America, and was the precursor for an expanding program.

In the UK, the University of Kent demonstrated conclusively the impact of mycorrhiza on the growth of vetiver (Vetiver Newsletter #7). The article is worth referring to again as the use of the growth of vetiver, particularly on very poor soils, could be improved significantly if inoculated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF).

Future research areas. There is a growing awareness for the need to understand the taxonomy of vetiver, and how vetiver is related to species and cultivars within the genus. DNA testing offers a unique opportunity to test the relationships. Kresovich et al (Vetiver Newsletter #10) showed the value of this when DNA testing indicated that the non flowering Huffman Boucard accessions were closely related to the vetiver found in Guatemala and Jamaica, and were very different from the seeding cultivars introduced from north India by the ARS. Robert Adams is about to embark on a much wider DNA testing program, and those of you interested in the research and would like to collaborate by sending local cultivars to him should get in touch with him. (Newsletter #14).

Phytoremediation and vetiver may be a possible new future wave for the use of vetiver. There are at least two research efforts under way in the US, that in West Virginia by Adler and Summerfelt shows promising results (Newsletter #14).

Testing and research on the feed value of vetiver continues (Vetiver Newsletter #14). Most vetiver cultivars in their young leaf stages are palatable and have reasonable nutritive value. There are some cultivars that Indian farmers have actually selected because of their higher palatability values. We need to identify other cultivars that have similar potential. Because vetiver is drought tolerant and has a wide range of adaptability, with selection and breeding, it could be possible to develop new varieties for fodder purposes.

Vetiver is now being used as a biological stabilizer in construction projects. P.K.Yoon's work, and that here in Thailand, is good testimony of this potential. We need to know more about the engineering characteristics of vetiver for this purpose and select those cultivars that best suit the need. Cultivars in Thailand show very different characteristics, and some may be better than others for a particular purpose, i.e. embankment stabilization, where deep rooting is essential may require a rather different characteristics than say vetiver used for slowing water velocities in drains where one might be better off having a cultivar with a much stiffer stem that can withstand greater depths of water flows.

We need to know more about cold tolerance and those cultivars that are more cold tolerant than others. The US Army under the lead of Muhammad Sharif (Vetiver Newsletter #13) is testing vetiver cultivars over a wide range of cold conditions in the US .

We really don't know a lot about the management of vetiver once planted in the field. Are there cultivars that are inert and need no management? We know that there are others that need a lot of management if we are to get the best from them as both hedges and fodder. Jim Smyle in Costa Rica considers that a combination of vetiver hedges and inter hedge cropping systems that use legumes (such a jack bean and velvet bean) as cover crops to reduce weed growth and improve fertility and production may be the ideal system for many small farmers in Central America. Here is a fertile area for research.

We need to identify quicker and more prolific ways of raising plant material and we need to focus more on the handling of material from the nursery to the field, in order to reduce mortality and increase establishment rates. Yoon's approach to the instant hedge using foam rubber "containerized" plantlets is an example where high quality plants can be produced in a media that is light and easy to handle and transport. More research on mycorrhiza and vetiver would prove useful in finding ways of better sustaining vetiver under very adverse conditions. For example if vetiver plantlets were inoculated with the right mycorrhiza would the growth on the acid aluminum toxic red soils of the tropical soils be improved.

Expanded research on what vetiver does for ground water recharge is very important. Separate work by Bharad and Kumar (Vetiver Newsletter #14) in India show very significant ground water recharge where vetiver hedges are used. At a time when water shortages are a growing problem, world wide, vetiver may be one of the answers.

There has been very little economic analysis undertaken of the vetiver system. We need to really identify costs of vetiver under different conditions, use, nursery and planting systems, and at the same time better identify the benefits (the latter are more than we see at face value).

P.K.Yoon's establishment of standards for vetiver when used for highway stabilization is a first step and an example which can be followed by others in other areas of application; for example Golden Hope Plantations in Malaysia now have included vetiver as a standard estate practice. Likewise, the mining industry in South Africa has vetiver as a standard practice for mine dump stabilization. We need to know in detail what these standards are.

The Boucard brothers in Texas have pioneered the mechanization of multiplying and planting vetiver (Vetiver Newsletter #9). Because vetiver planting is labor intensive we need to do more research on its mechanization particularly for application in the US, Australia, and other high cost labor markets.

There are many opportunities for expanded vetiver research. It is no longer a case of "do vetiver hedges work" ,but rather how can the use of vetiver be expanded for other purposes and how can the efficiency of the system be improved. There is plenty of exciting work to be done by researchers with fresh ideas and open minds.

Technology Transfer

The past ten years of association with this world wide vetiver initiative has taught me how difficult it is to convince people of a good idea, and how long it takes to put a new technology into practice, particularly one whose benefits are long term and secondary. It has also underscored the weaknesses of government extension services where staff have a technical background but often lack real commitment, and in contrast the NGOs that have commitment but alas often are technically weak. The experience has confirmed that direct written technical information that is well illustrated and easy to understand is essential to ant transfer program. Most importantly it has confirmed that where the end user receives proper training the results are most effective and the adoption rate is high. Technology to be effective has to be applied correctly (with modification by the user where applicable). Many good technologies fail and are discarded because of improper application.

Where governments are involved policy makers need to be convinced of the value and economics of the technology, they need then to put conviction into action. This includes funding for research and technology transfer; development of a marketing strategy (so many technologies are introduced without such a strategy and often fail); hands on training of professional extension workers both in the theory and practice of the technology, preparation, printing and publication of written materials in the appropriate local languages for use of the end users, trainers, and where applicable the local schools. Preparation of audio and visual materials for lectures, TV, and radio. Nowadays instructional videos have real impact because most communities have access to VCRs more than they do to slide projectors! This type of approach is outlined in the CTTA manual produced by the Academy of Educational Development in Washington DC. The system was developed in Peru and is effective not only in Agriculture but also in health and other disciplines. The CTTA approach is pretty scale neutral and can be used by small village extension schemes, NGOs, and of course by governments. It is easy to modify to meet local requirements and budgets.

Some notable successes in technology transfer have been achieved by NGOs. In Africa Bob Mann of the Methodist Church has introduced vetiver to southern Zambia and Zimbabwe. Munchen f Munchen in western Ethiopia have now some 600 farmers protecting their lands with vetiver. David Leonard of SHARE in Honduras has successfully transferred the technology to over 20 other NGOs; and Kevin O'Sullivan in Mexico is undertaking an exciting introduction of vetiver to southern Mexico. In Asia vetiver is being successfully introduced under a number of World Bank projects via traditional extension services as well as NGOs. The Sri Lanka Tea Development Institute under the guidance of Ray Wijwardene has got thousands of farmers to use vetiver to protect their tea gardens. In the Philippines, Tung and Balina of FARMI (Visayas) demonstrated very conclusively the value of proper farmer training and the linkage to adoption rates (see Newsletter #7). In Indonesia CARE International has introduced vetiver to some of its programs, and there are many other successes where transfer has occurred following appropriate training of users by committed agencies.

Publications have played an important role in establishing the vetiver technology around the world. "Vetiver Grass - A Hedge Against Erosion" produced by John Greenfield in 1987 and published by the Bank in English, Spanish and Portuguese has had at least 100,000 copies printed. Countless translations have been made in other languages. It is a well written and illustrated handbook for users, and has been the backbone of our "marketing" effort. In 1993 the US National Academy of Science published "Vetiver Grass- The Thin Green Line Against Erosion". 40,000 copies were printed and distributed at no charge. This publication has not only confirmed the technologies utility, but also added great credence to the technology transfer process. Norman Borlaug of Texas A&M (Nobel Prize winner for wheat breeding) was the Chairman of the verification committee and Noel Vietmeyer and Mark Dafforn of the National Research Council were the writer and researcher respectively. Other publications by Yoon and others have been sent to many users around the world.

The role of the press, scientific journals, and regional journals have also played an important role in publicizing the technology, both in questioning and supporting the perceived benefits of the technology. The journal "Americas" was most instrumental in getting Spanish speaking readers in Latin America interested in the technology. The Economist raised the ire of Indian researchers by questioning their ability to adapt to change and to look at ideas that were not internally generated. Today, Indian research into vetiver is committed and constructive. The Thai press has supported His Majesty's vetiver initiative, and the New York Times raised the hopes and interest of many American readers.

The Vetiver Newsletter published about twice a year by the Vetiver Network has also been very instrumental in getting the message out to users. The Newsletter prints any feed back that is intelligible and useful. It is a practical newsletter. Readers comments can be summed up by a participant in Puerto Rico who wrote "I read, I did, and it worked" What greater accolade could a newsletter receive. The newsletter provides a sense of partnership, it reinforces ideas from around the world, it reminds those who are battling with authorities of the utility of the vetiver system that others are facing similar problems, that others are having success and that break throughs are happening every month.

The underlying theme on these written exchanges is the need to share ideas at no cost. Publications and the newsletter, thus far, have generally been distributed at no charge; and some people, such as Yoon and others, have made information available, often at sacrifice to their own pockets. In the future information transfer between users will be enhanced via the Internet, but remember the majority of end users do not have computers or access to the Internet so hard copy remains an important part of the transfer system.

In summary the rate of adoption of the technology will be determined by the quality and effectiveness of the technology transfer process. It is essential that this process be treated seriously and be properly funded. Written publications will remain an important part of the process for the foreseeable future, and that the hands on training of the end user is essential.

The Vetiver Network

The Vetiver Network has played a key role in marketing the technology, linking users and researchers together, and providing feedback on a world wide basis. It has not come cheaply. Fortunately the World Bank generously supported the initiative as a practical means of demonstrating its commitment to soil and water conservation. The Bank has agreed to cover the cost of printing the newsletter through to the end of 1996 (only two more newsletters). The Bank also continues to cover the cost of mailing past Bank generated technical information on vetiver. How long this service will last is debatable. The Network is voluntarily managed and has no personnel costs. The cost of telephone, fax and other communications come from a few private donations. Videos, slides and other papers are no longer free to all users. The Network Coordinator makes a judgment as to who can afford to pay and who can't. Those who can, pay and help subsidize those who can't!!

What of the future? The Network, as currently managed, is an informal affair which sees its participants as being part of a world wide family of users, sharing information at minimum cost and formality. I think we should keep it that way.

It is increasingly difficult to raise funds. There are so many initiatives that probably deserve greater support, and all non profit organizations seem to be competing for a dwindling pot of money. The Network has received a few, but generous contributions. The most recent being $15,000 from the Amberstone Trust (a private UK family trust). More of our affluent users could participate in the network's funding, and it is my intention to increase the rate of this participation. A policy of those who can afford to pay will be initiated and rates will be established that reflect the cost of production of materials that are supplied with a percentage added on to help defray the costs of those who cannot afford the cost or who do not have access to foreign exchange. The Network has set up a Home Page on Internet that will eventually contain all the past newsletters and all papers that are written on vetiver, vetiver participants and their addresses, and other relevant information. The Vetiver Home page -- www.vetiver.com -- is accessible to all who subscribe to Internet.

The Network continues to disseminate to new participants a complete package of materials (at no charge) that includes "Vetiver Grass - A Hedge Against Erosion" (the green book); "Vetiver Grass- The Thin Green Line Against Erosion" (the blue book), all past issues (#3 through 14) of the Vetiver Newsletter, and the directory of vetiver participants in hard copy (diskettes are also available). A new 240 page technical publication, "Vetiver Grass -- Its Use for Soil and Water Conservation, Embankment Stabilization and Land Rehabilitation", bringing much of the foregoing together has recently been published by the World Bank. The Network has updated slide sets covering some 65 scenes of the technology with a write up (price US$ 65) and 4 video tapes at US $25 each. A new 28 minute professional video, in PAL and NTSC, comprising some 120 photographs is now available at $25. Other publications are available on request. Last year some 300 new members joined the network (no fee) and over 450 letters were answered covering requests for information, contacts, plant material etc. In 1995 the network produced two newsletters totaling some 80 pages of script and photographs. These were sent at no charge to all those 3,600 on the network.

A year ago I asked vetiver participants as to whether we needed a central network or country networks. The response was mixed. I believe that the time is ripe to set up country networks, so that material can be sent out in local languages, and that information will be relevant to local needs and conditions. To set up a local network a source of funds needs to be committed by government or some other agency, a coordinator needs to be appointed - preferably a voluntary one who is committed to the concept and the technology - and some basic equipment needs to be acquired. The Vetiver Network currently operated from Leesburg, Virginia, USA should continue because we need a center to assure that information is exchanged and that contacts are made. The Vetiver Newsletter should be continued both in hard and electronic (Internet) copy. If funding is weak then the Internet way would be the cheapest. If The Vetiver Network is able to continue to source funds, it would be possible to move some of those funds to enable local networks initiate their operations.

In November 1995 The Vetiver Network was formally incorporated as a non stock non profit organization. I am the Network's president and coordinator. The Network has seven Director's. The first regional network is being established. It will be for Latin America and its business and publications will be in Spanish. Jim Smyle and his wife Joan, who are currently located in Costa Rica, will be responsible for its establishment. I hope that we can find a way to establish other networks particularly in Asia and Africa.

The vetiver network is alive and well. It has played an important role in the past in marketing the technology. Local networks should be established with information support and perhaps funding (if available) from the central network. The latter should and is changing its mode of operation to respond to changing funding patterns.

Conclusions

The Vetiver Grass Technology has become well established around the world as an effective biological measure for water and soil conservation. Its other attributes include its use for earth work stabilization, waterway stabilization, phyto-remediation, livestock feed, and commercial uses are getting better understood. International agencies such as the World Bank, AF,, and the Iris are endorsing the use of the technology. Governments are better understanding its conservation role, spurred by the need to cut subsidies and budgets. NGOs, private sector operatives and farmers see its use as a low cost and effective measure for soil stabilization. There are a number of areas of research that need addressing including the taxonomy of the different cultivars, their uses, and management techniques. Technology transfer is weak and needs much improvement. Planning, marketing and training techniques as outlined in the CTTA manual should be followed and adapted as necessary. Written publications and their exchange will continue to be important sources of information. Electronic exchange via the Internet should be encouraged. The Vetiver Network has played an important role in the dissemination of information on vetiver. Local networks should be established to serve regions, countries or regions within a country. A central function for the current world wide Vetiver Network is envisaged.

Finally, the Network will be as only good as you the participants make it. The Network needs your technical input, in other words it needs your feedback in the form of written articles, photos, etc. It also needs financial support from government and non government agencies and commercial companies that are using and benefiting from the vetiver technology. We need a minimum of $30,000 a year to operate (this includes publishing and mailing two newsletters). This is not a lot of money, and could be raised on a voluntary basis from those users who can afford to contribute.

<1>Vetiver Network Coordinator, The Vetiver Network, E.mail vetiver@vetiver.org