STATUS REPORT - EUROPEAN AND MEDITERRANEAN REGION,

THE VETIVER NETWORK (EMVN) - APRIL 1998

 

A. The following is a country-by-country status report.

 

1. Portugal

(a) The pioneer of vetiver in Portugal is Antonio Vasco de Mello. He imported plants from South Africa two years ago onto his property near Alpiarça in Central Portugal (39º 14' N; 8º 33' W). Many of the soils are sandy and highly erodable. He intends to use the vetiver for protection of dams, control of gullying in cultivated valley bottoms and for erosion control and improved water retention in hillside slopes of poor soils planted to trees. The plants are currently growing well. Continued observation will be made to determine the performance of these plants at this latitude.

b) In March 1998 some 2,500 slips each of 3-4 tillers were imported from Zimbabwe. These have been planted in 17 trials nurseries located throughout the Algarve Region of Portugal and with one in the Alentejo to the North (38º 40' N; 7º 18' W), three in the Açores archipelago (38º N) and 1 in Southern Spain (36º 37' N; 4º 40' W). The group of importers includes: two official bodies, the Departments of Agriculture at Tavira (Eastern Algarve-37º 8' N; 7º 39' W) and the Açores (in conjunction with the University); a non-governmental organisation; two commercial horticultural operations and the rest private landowners.

The initial objective is to multiply up from the base material whilst observing growth performance and maintaining a close observation on any pests or plagues. Thereafter, as planting material becomes available the vetiver will be used for a variety of field trials. These will include dam protection, highway embankment stabilisation, protection of toxic waste dumps, and stabilisation of the landward side of eroded cliff tops.

In the Açores much of the soil is volcanic pumice which becomes unstable when sodden. The potential or limitations of vetiver will be assessed to stabilise these soils.

The 17 trials being undertaken cover a variety of climatic and pedologic conditions. Most of the soils in the Algarve (37ºN) are calcareous but in two higher locations they are acidic. The region enjoys some 3,000 hours sunshine and precipitation varies from about 450mm p.a. to over 1,000mm in the two higher locations.

c) The long-term objective is to expand the locations of trials to determine the potential or limitations of vetiver for this region of Southern Europe. Emphasis will be placed on determining, under different geographic, climatic and pedologic conditions: root growth rate; tiller multiplication rate; biomass production; sensitivity to reduced sunshine hours at more northerly latitudes; sensitivity to frost; and ability to survive low annual precipitation with prolonged periods of drought.

d) Continued efforts will be made to interest the Universities, Government Departments and other research bodies in this work. The Co-ordinator has already approached official bodies concerned with the issues of desertification and protection of the littoral in Portugal.

2. Spain

Vetiver was introduced into Spain in 1995 under an EC funded project which now ceases to function as such on account of lack of funds. However, germplasm stocks have been established at El Rebat near Barcelona (41º 18' N; 2º 15' E). In addition vetiver has been established and has performed well at El Chopillo and Lorca (37º 42' N; 1º 42' W) in Murcia Region under harsh climatic and pedologic conditions, annual precipitation is some 250mm. The Co-ordinator has spoken on vetiver at Cártama University, Málaga and has established communications with a scientist working on vetiver related maters at the University of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid. Two private growers of vetiver have been identified, one near Málaga and one near Cadiz. EMVN will continue to expand its contacts particularly in regard to the use of vetiver within the context of desertification control.

3. Italy

Work on vetiver related topics has been undertaken by Professor Vito Sardo at Catania University, Sicily (37º 30' N; 15º E). From an importation of 12 Monto variety plants imported from Australia in 1996 2,000 plants are under field observation and 1,000 are in pots. Biomass production comparisons (both aerial and roots) commenced in 1997, comparing vetiver to Napier grass, Energycane and Giant reeds. In addition, vetiver will be included for comparison with other depurating plants in their efficiency to treat domestic waste waters. In 1999, vetiver's performance in combating run-off and soil erosion will be examined using rain simulators.

4. Greece

Positive reactions to the establishment of trials plots have been received from a NGO, The American Farm School Thessaloniki (40º 40' N; 22º 50' E) and from the Soil Science Institute of the National Agricultural Research Foundation, Athens (38º N; 23º 45' E). The principal factor limiting the early establishment of trials, as in cases elsewhere, is the cost and difficulty of importing small quantities of plants. Nevertheless, trials are expected to be established during 1998.

5. Albania

In early 1997 some 3,000 plants were imported by the externally funded Albania Private Forestry Development Program. Amongst other locations field plantings are planned to be established in Korcë (40º 36' N; 21º 12' E).

6. Cyprus

The Departments of Agriculture and Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment have both expressed initial interest in establishing vetiver trials.

7. Syria

Dr. Michael Zoebisch of ICARDA proposes to establish vetiver trials at the ICARDA station, Aleppo during 1998, the only limiting factor being importation of planting material.

8. Jordan and Tunisia

It is possible that the ICARDA stations may commence vetiver trials in 1998, having been encouraged to do so by the headquarters in Aleppo. In the case of Tunisia, Trochain (1940) recorded vetiver as having been introduced into the country by Europeans. To date, no information has yet been obtained as to the current status of vetiver production in Tunisia.

9. West Asian Countries

Despite various attempts through contact to official bodies no positive response has yet been received to establish trials in such countries as Turkey or Iran. There would seem to be strong justification for the potential or limitations of vetiver to be examined in Turkey especially. Contacts are sought that might lead to action.

10. Israel

A number of members of the Vetiver Network are located in Israel and the Co-ordinator has contacted some but with no positive response yet received. It is not yet known whether vetiver already exists in Israel.

11. Egypt

Anecdotally, Sandy Storrar recalls, when at Edinburgh University in 1938, hearing Professor Shearer enthuse of the vetiver he had observed growing in Egypt. Egypt possesses a significant scent industry and it is likely that vetiver will have been grown or is still growing within this context. Despite various attempts no contact has yet been established who can confirm the current status of vetiver production in Egypt.

12. Morocco

Two positive responses have been received to establish vetiver trials in Morocco. One comes from the Department of Forests and the other is a private landowner.

B. General Issues from the Co-ordinator's Office

 

1. Funding

An application will be submitted for EC funding to cover the period 1999-2001. If this application is successful it will permit the general expansion of vetiver trials and field application throughout the EMVN Region. It will strengthen the office of the Co-ordinator and permit more effective cross pollination of knowledge and experience on vetiver application through more effective information dissemination, holding of field days and conferences as appropriate.

2. EMVN as a Free-standing Body

At present EMVN is, in effect, a branch of TVN. As such an application for financial assistance from the EC is less likely to be favourably viewed than if it were a free-standing body. Accordingly, action is currently being taken to establish EMVN officially as a non-profit organisation independent of but closely linked to TVN. Whilst EMVN operations cover a number of countries, EMVN would be registered in Portugal.

3. Contacts

The principal function of EMVN is to act as a centre of communications, dissemination information on vetiver throughout the Region and co-ordinating vetiver activities where necessary for the benefit of researchers and those involved in field application. Contacts are the critical ingredient to the ability of the Co-ordinator's office to function effectively. The Co-ordinator seeks help from readers of the above in providing contacts that can be followed up and which, hopefully, will lead to an expansion of vetiver activity within the Region.

April 6, 1998

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