Did you know that 2 kg of dry biomass per day provides sufficient energy to cook the food for a family of six. In Vetiver terms this equates annually to plus or minus 200 linear meters of vetiver hedgerow. Most farmers who use vetiver seriously for soil and water conservation have probably at least 500 meters of hedgerow. Unlike most trees these 500 meters of vetiver can be cut year after year with no additional inputs, and over years production goes up, and not down. So here we have a technology that will increase crop yields by as much as 50% due to conserved soil and water and related reduction in risk (thus enabling other farm inputs to be used with benefit); will improve groundwater recharge; will provide forage; thatch and mulch; and can be used for handicrafts and medicine. If a small quarter hectare farm was boundary hedged with vetiver that would be sufficient to cook all the family food for a year, and every year.
There are numerous improved cooking stoves that are cheap and efficient that can use vetiver as a fuel. Some follow the “rocket” concept, and others work on pyrolysis principle that can produce heat for cooking and produce biochar as a biproduct that can be reincorporated into the soil (providing both a plant nutrient and a carbon sink).
Vetiver can be burnt as a raw feedstock of leaves and stems or as a briquette. Malawi made Vetiver briquettes worked very well, and there are simple pieces of equipment that can be used to make vetiver briquettes. The Legacy Foundation supports briquetting techniques and can provide training and plans for vetiver presses. Farmers can produce briquettes for their own use, and also for sale to local urbanites in lieu of charcoal from diminishing trees supplies.
If we can link the stove makers, the briquetters and vetiver development groups and networks we can achieve multiple objectives all to the benefit to the farmers, urban dwellers and the environment.
Currently on our Google Vetiver-System group there are some interesting discussion and comment on this topic. Join our group and learn more including relevant contacts to take this initiative further.