General Introduction


Recent Development of Vetiver Technology in China through China Vetiver Network (CVN)

Background of vetiver technology development in China
National information service
Field surveys and investigations
Supporting partners to test vetiver grass
Encouraging different institutions to use vetiver
Preparation of new development proposals through joint efforts
Further consideration in vetiver development in China

The proper use of soils is to ensure sustainable land productivity through conservation of water resources and prevention of reduction of soil erosion. Although there are a lot of soil conservation measures, the most outstanding of these is the use of vegetative soil and moisture conservation measures that are cheap, replicable, sustainable, and fully effective in stopping erosive degradation and increasing crop yield. Many examples from all of the world showed that vetiver as a boundary hedge to be the ideal plant to conserve soil and rehabilitate eroded farmland. The vetiver technology was recently recognized by a panel of international judges to be the best of 71 sustainable technologies that were entered for the "John Franz Sustainability Award". To speed up the extension of the technology in southern part of China, where 70% of the land is mountainous and soil erosion is a critical problem, the China Vetiver Network (CVN) was established at the end of 1996. The main task of CVN is country-wide vetiver technology extension, i.e., to extend vetiver technology to new area or to use the grass to new applications. To achieve this purpose we may divide our work into the following aspects: national information service; organization of regional surveys and investigations; supporting partners to test vetiver grass; and the development of new projects. The followings are some details.

 I. Background of vetiver technology development in China

 The valuable grass vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) was disseminated to China in late 1980s as a plant for soil erosion control hedges, although it had been introduced into the county as early as in 1950's as a plant for extracting oil from its roots. Since 1980's, the Vetiver Grass has been experimented or tested in most provinces in southern China, as in Jiangxi, Fujian, Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, Hainan, Guangdong, Gansu, Henan, Shandong, and Zhejiang Provinces. The followings are some results:

 Although there has been some progress in vetiver cultivation in China, there exist problems:

So there is an urgent demand to introduce vetiver to county-level extension stations and then to farmers.

 Recently, great progresses have been made in improving this situation and in extending vetiver technology through out China. The work was done under the coordination by CVN and in cooperation with numerous institutions in various disciplines. The followings are the main points.


II. National information service

 The China Vetiver Network was developed based on and in cooperation with the existing national agroforestry network which has been developed for more than four years with over 1,000 members. The national information service focus its attention on the southern part of China where tropical and subtropical climate dominate. The vetiver publications were distributed to many national universities, research institutions, governmental offices, provincial institutions, and also many county level and some township level extension stations. Many disciplines were involved, including soil and water conservation, agriculture, forestry, ecology, environmental protection, botany, and soil science, etc. The publications include:

 Besides, in order to distribute the vetiver grass more widely, advertisements were put in some popular national journals on soil and water conservation and ecology. Communication has been strengthened between CVN and vetiver users through frequent correspondence.


 III. Field surveys and investigations

 Aiming at disseminating vetiver technology and exploring new users and new vetiver applications, field surveys and investigations were carried out in Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hubei, Hunan, and Anhui provinces. These investigations were organized by the China Vetiver Network and cooperated by numerous multi-disciplinary institutions at national, provincial, prefecture, county, and township levels. Through these investigations, team members learnt experiences from established vetiver application models and proposed new applications. In addition, by distributing vetiver publications and discussing with local technicians and master farmers, team members encouraged more and more people to test and use the grass.

 (1) Vetiver Investigation in Fujian Province, China

 Co-organized by China Vetiver Network and Fujian Provincial Water and Soil Conservation Station, a vetiver field investigation was organized on 23-31 December 1996. The investigation team consisted of 16 persons from The Institute of Soil Science of Academia Sinica, Nanping City Water and Soil Conservation Office, Jianyang County Water and Soil Conservation Station, Jianyang Agricultural Foreign Investment Office, Fuzhou City Water and Soil Conservation Office, Pingtan County Water and Soil Conservation Station, and Pingtan County Agricultural Bureau, etc. The purpose of the investigation included: (1) evaluation of the former experiences; (2) discussion of new applications and extension measures; (3) consultation of new project proposals; (4) preparation of some details on the proposed vetiver workshop. The investigation sites included the site of vetiver for the recover of degraded barren lands, vetiver for orchard protection, vetiver for promoting nut cultivation, and vetiver for stabilizing coast sands.

(2) Vetiver Investigation in Jiangxi Province, China

 Coorganized by China Vetiver Network, and Jiangxi Agricultural Foreign Investment Office, a field investigation was held on 24-28 February 1997. Eight scientists and government officers from Jiangxi Red Soil Project, The Institute of Soil Science (Academia Sinica), Jiangxi Provincial Red Soil Institute, Nanchang Science Committee, and Jinxian Agricultural Foreign Investment Office were involved. The issue of the investigation was to evaluate and explore the application of vetiver on red soils and wind-blow sandy area. In the province the red soils derived from quaternary red clay covers a large area of 162 million Mu (1 ha = 15 Mu), while the wind-blow sandy land covers 0.2 million Mu.

The investigation team visited the sandy area of Nanchang County and red soil area in Jinxian County and found a great potential of using vetiver to ameliorate these extreme soils. In addition the team prepared vetiver planting material and sent them to Anhui, Hubei, and Jiangsu Provinces.

  (3) Soil erosion and Vetiver application potential in Hubei Province

 Situated at the center of the country, Hubei Province has a total area of 870,700 in which the mountains and hills cover more than 60%. Under high population density the per capita cultivated land is very limited. Farmers had to clear forests for food production, which may easily cause soil erosion if without proper protection measures. It was estimated that there was a soil erosion area for 68,500 sq. km in the province, in which there was 40,000 sq. km belonging to moderately and seriously eroded area. To prevent soil from erosion, some watersheds were managed through the establishment of stone-protected terraces with considerable costs ( over 20,000 Yuan RMB/ha). Therefore, the soil erosion was rarely controlled, which and other multiple factors caused many mountain areas remained in poverty with more than 3 million people with food and clothing problems. To alleviate rural poverty the government proposed ?ichnization Project through Greenization’, i.e., to promote poverty alleviation by planting commercial trees in large scales. However, as there will be not any protection measures proposed, it will easily cause new soil erosion.

 In addition, in the 5 years starting from 1996 the province will construct express highway and 1st-class highway for 410 km, and 2nd-class highway for 2,600 km. As lacking of fund slippage will not be well protected and new soil erosion remains to be controlled. Through the survey and field investigation coorganized by provincial water and Soil Conservation Office, Huangang Prefecture Water and Soil Conservation Research Institute, and numerous county level water and soil conservation stations, the participants investigated most suitable areas and sites where the grass can play effective function, such as river, ditches, and reservoir embankment protection, earth terrace fixing, sediment protection, etc. Vetiver nurseries are planned and going to be established. Vetiver development proposals were prepared.

 IV. Supporting partners to test vetiver grass

 The China Vetiver Network has supported its partners to test and use vetiver grass through providing micro-grants and information services. The followings are some examples.

 Fuzhou Soil and Water Conservation Station, Fujian Province

 Under financial and document support from CVN, Fuzhou Soil and Water Conservation Station continues and strengthens its tests of using vetiver to control wind erosion, to establish vetiver based agroforestry systems. They fill the gaps of existing hedges, strengthen the applications of vetiver in coast area of Fujian Province where wind-blow sand forms a threat to farm land, ditches, and rivers.

Botanical Institute of South China, Guangdong

Supported by The Vetiver Network (TVN) and CVN, scientists in the institute continue their research and extension work in spreading the usage of vetiver in Guangdong, enlarging nurseries to produce planting material. Besides, they study the effect of vetiver as feed specially for pig and fish, the possibility of using vetiver as leaven material for biogas, the vetiver cover of municipal waste dumps and industrial polluted area.

Reproduction base in Dabie Mountains, Anhui Province

To introduce and extend vetiver in Dabie Mountains, one of the most serious eroded area and poverty mountain in the country, supported by CVN, a nursery was established in Yuexi County of Anhui province, which will become a production base for planting materials in the area and is expected to produce more planting materials for the whole Dabie Mountain area in Hubei. Anhui, and Henan Provinces.

V. Encouraging different institutions to use vetiver

Since the establishment of CVN in 1996, more and more people wrote us to express their interests in applying vetiver grass based on their own budget and existing projects. The CVN has provided them with information, documents, and/or planting materials and encourage them to study, use and extend vetiver grass. The followings are some examples:

The Anhui Provincial Agricultural Academy is actively involving vetiver planting. With financial support from Anhui Provincial 9th Five-year Plan for the Yellow and Red Earth Amelioration, they bought vetiver planting material from Jiangxi Province and plant them on chestnut plantation in red soils of Huangshan area of southern Anhui province.

Provided with vetiver planting materials by CVN, the Shuitianba Water & Soil Conservation Station, Jigui County of Hubei Province is planting vetiver in upper section of The Three Gorge. The county has 2427 land with population density of 160 person/ About 80% of the land are mountains and soil erosion is serious.

The Institute of Soil Science is starting his research on effect of saline soil on vetiver grass, and the effect of vetiver grass on saline soil improvement in Rudong County of Jiangsu Province.

The Environmental Group of The Institute of Soil Science started the trial of using vetiver grass for water eutrophication control in Taihu Lake in East China. The preliminary test was conducted in Nanjing supported by CVN. Pots were used for vetiver culture. Preliminary result was obtained.

The Forestry College of Guangxi Agriculture University focus on the soil conservation in limestone area of Guangxi province. They are also planning to use vetiver grass to control soil erosion and to establish a demonstration site for the 8 seriously eroded counties in the province.

  The above examples indicate that through our networking activities more and more people are using or testing vetiver grass. The main problem at this moment is the lack of planting materials and 'seed money'. The CVN organized and provided some vetiver planting materials to distribute to Jiangsu, Anhui (Dabie Mountain, and Huangshan Mountain), and Hubei. However, caused by financial shortage only very limited materials were distributed, far from enough.

 VI. Preparation of new development proposals through joint efforts

  Based on multiple surveys, investigations and exchange programs, several proposals or concept papers were prepared, that is playing and will play an important role in accelerating the dissemination and development of vetiver technology through out the country and will keep CVN to be more vigorous. The followings are some examples:


 VII. Further consideration in vetiver development in China

  Although great success has been achieved during the recent time, much remains to be done. China has a huge population but very limited per capita natural resources. Besides, caused by various factors, the limited farm land resources in China are poor in quality with a fairly large proportion under soil erosion, degradation, and desertification, etc. Therefore, the sustainable agriculture and soil erosion control is extremely important in this country. The role of vetiver planting can not be overemphasized.

  At first, we should do our best to extend vetiver technology to most agricultural, environmental universities, research institutions, development agencies, government offices, and in particular various extension stations. More attention should be paid on county and township extension stations and master farmers as well in mountainous and hilly areas in southern China. Information service should be strengthened. More vivid description and instruction materials on vetiver technology should be prepared, produced and distributed as widely as possible. Training courses, demonstrations, and workshops at national, provincial, and local level are expected to be organized through joint efforts of different institutions. We should tell users that although vetiver can not enable one to be a millionaire, it does help other crops to be productive and profitable.

  Secondly, we should strengthen exchange program to promote vetiver users distributed at different areas both at home and abroad to exchange their ideas and to share their experiences. Exchanging visit is expected to be organized both nationally and internationally.

  Third, we should encourage scientists from different disciplines to actively engage in vetiver research on soil erosion control, extreme soil amelioration, waterway stabilization, pollution control, earth works protection and other numerous new applications, and encourage scientists and development workers to join together to extend research results to practical uses.

  Fourth, vetiver reproduction bases should be established and disseminated at reasonable places to cover the whole southern part of the country in order to meet the increasing needs of plating materials, to lower transportation costs and increase survival rate.

  Fifth, we should do our best to seek more financial support from different sources, international donors, governments, domestic foundations, etc.

 Contacts: China Vetiver Network

C/O Institute of Soil Science

P.O. Box 821

Nanjing 210008, China

Fax: 86-25-3353590

E-mail: [email protected]