“Vetiver Banks” Set Up in Thailand

From the Pacific Rim’s Vetiver Network’s Newsletter #46 October 2008

Several agriculture-related, non-conventional Banks have been set up in Thailand, e.g. Buffalo Bank; Wild-flower Seed Bank; Paddy Rice Bank; Rice Grain Bank; Crop Seed Bank, etc. The main difference between these Banks and the conventional monetary Bank is that the former is non-profit and non-monetary in nature. Members can draw the item they want from the bank when needed and return it with interest to the bank at a later date when the farmer has in his possession the item that he has produced/multiplied. For example, a farmer who needs draught animals to plow his land, he can borrow a female buffalo from the bank and use it on his farm for a period of time. When it has produced a few calves, the mother buffalo is returned to the bank as the capital, and a calf as the interest. The same principle applies to other Banks.

While the results of the competitions of “Vetiver Planting”, and “Vetiver-planting Promotion”, organized by the PTT Public Company, Thailand were announced, at least three Vetiver Banks were revealed. They are:

1. Established by Mr. Thongdee Inta, Pratu Pa Sub-district, Mueang District, Lamphun Province in the category ‘Vetiver Planting’. As a ‘Soil Doctor’, a volunteer on soil conservation practice of the Land Development Department, Thongdee learned about the value of vetiver and started to plant vetiver in 2003 along the ditches of his orchard. Normally he had to dig up the mud from the bottom of the ditches and put it onto the banks 3 or 4 times a year. With vetiver planting along the banks, he did not have to do this tedious job again. He also learned that vetiver has several direct and indirect benefits. For example, it absorbs residue of potassium chlorate applied to his longan plants to induce off-season flowering; it helps the longan plants to be in good health, which without vetiver, they were in poor health for a long period of time. Moreover, the crops bordered with vetiver plants were greener and produced higher yields than the ones without it. When the neighbors observed that vetiver has provided several benefits to his farm, they came and requested slips of vetiver for planting on their farms. Instead of giving them free-of-charge, he loaned the slips from his ‘Vetiver Bank’ to them on condition that the borrowers have to return the same amount of slips to the Bank plus the interest, i.e. an extra amount of slips so that he can loan them to other farmers.

2. Mr. Pakpum Poya, Ping Kong Sub-district, Chiang Daun District, Chiang Mai Province in the category ‘Vetiver-planting Promotion”. A community-coordination officer of the Chiang Daun Watershed Management Unit, Pakpum is involved in coordinating the environmental issue, the self-sufficiency economy including the vetiver technology. He was responsible for providing the know-how on vetiver to the community and extending the knowledge on vetiver planting to the villagers. He also encouraged the villages to plant vetiver in the villages on special-occasion days. He set up demonstration plots and let the villagers observe the successful results of growing vetiver. He encouraged the villagers to plant vetiver on public lands in various villages. He also organized a training course on vetiver for the villagers, teaching them on how make vetiver products and vetiver compost. One of his successful tasks was the establishment of the ‘Vetiver Bank’ in Huai Pau Village School and loaned vetiver slips to the villagers who want to grow vetiver on their lands on the condition that they had to return the slips with interest back to the Bank at a later date.

3. Ban Sang Housewife Group, Khi Lek Sub-district, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai Province in the category “Veiver-planting Promotion”. With 20 members, the Group was active in vetiver-planting promotion. In addition to providing the know-how on the technology of planting vetiver to the villagers, the Group encouraged the villagers to plant vetiver on their land and to produce vetiver handicrafts such as plates, baskets, plate mats, pencil boxes, etc from vetiver leaves. A vetiver multiplication plot was set up to provide slips for planting. The same principle of ‘Vetiver Bank’ was practiced.

The vetiver bank concept is an excellent approach to getting plant material distributed.  Ed