On behalf of a group in mainland Portugal, Spain and the Ašores I arranged

for the importation of a consignment of vetiver from Jano Labat of Vetiver

Grass Stabilization (pvt) Ltd, Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. The quality of the

plants was excellent and they arrived (mid-March) moist and well packaged.

The consignment arrived on time but, over a week-end so the plants were

held in cold storage pending collection on the Monday. Since there were 12

members in the group (official bodies, NGO and private) my wife and I were

allowed to repackage for each individual's collection at the airport. One

component had to be reconsigned to the Ašores. Whilst all turned out well

on the day there were a number of issues that arose which could have

resulted in serious problems. For information, these are passed on below.

1. Accompanying the consignment must be the originals of: the bill of

lading noting flight details etc.; a dated invoice showing cost of plants

and cost of shipment as separate items; and the phytosanitary certificate.

Emphasis is placed on the documents being originals and properly dated,

signed etc.

2. Separate to the above, copies of each of the above documents should

be sent to the purchaser by fax for onward transmission to the receiving

cargo handling agent or alternatively direct to the latter. This allows

the agent to put meeting arrangements in hand, arrange for cold storage if

necessary and to arrange with agricultural staff for phytosanitary


3. The agricultural staff may likely wish to take some specimens of

the planting materials for whatever testing they wish to undertake.

The above may sound simple and obvious but failure to fulfil these

requirements exactly could result in the authorities refusing clearance

with the likely consequence being deterioration or loss of the plants.

Note that phytosanitary requirements may vary country to country.

Other data relative to our importation may be of use to others.

* We imported 0.75 cu. meter planting material. This yielded

approximately 2,500 slips each of 3-4 tillers. Thus 1 cu. meter could be

expected to yield 3,500 slips each of 3-4 tillers. We were very satisfied

with the quantity of slips we received per cu. meter.

* The total cost per slip was US$0.55 of which the plants cost

US$0.10 (19.2%), the air freight US$0.27 (48.6%), clearance charges US$0.11

(20.2%), and administrative costs (tel/fax, collection etc) US$0.07


* Total costs were somewhat inflated in our case by the fact that

approximately 40% of the consignment had to be transhipped to the Ašores

involving additional agency charges.

* Note that cost per slip will reduce with larger consignments where

overheads (clearance and administrative overheads) will be lower.

Conversely, the cost of importing a small consignment results in very high

clearance costs per slip. For example, EcoGroup of Florida generously gave

us 20 plants for demonstrational purposes. These had been produced by

tissue culture and were also of excellent quality. We split each slip into

two on arrival but the cost of the resulting 40 plants to us, purely

clearance and collection, was approximately US$3.65 per slip.

This is perhaps an opportune moment to emphasise that we should maintain a

'squeaky clean' image regarding vetiver plant importations however small

the quantity. I know that some enthusiasts wish to bring in small

quantities of plants in their travel baggage. I suggest that, at the very

least, a phytosanitary certificate be obtained, even if it is only held for

production if requested by customs authorities on arrival.

April 2, 1998



Michael Pease

Quinta das Espargosas

Odiaxere, 8600 Lagos

Algarve Portugal

Tel/fax: 351-82-798466