VETIVER BASED AGROFORESTRY PROJECT LAUNCHED IN ANHUI AND GUANGXI PROVINCES IN CHINA

Abstract

To relief poverty and control water and soil erosion, vetiver based agroforestry project was launched in Anhui and Guangxi Provinces. In addition to numerous vetiver tillers will be planted, totaling 300 000 tea tree, and 12 000 bamboo will be planted. To help farmers get direct income from vetiver 3 vetiver handicraft training courses were organized to strengthen and disseminate the skills in Guangxi and later in Anhui respectively. Over 40 women as new trainees received vetiver handicraft training. A series of technical trainings will be conducted, 600 farmers will receive directive training. Many training materials will be produced in large quantities and widely distributed for extension purpose. Numerous farmers will get in-direct training.

1. PREAMBLE

1.1 Soil erosion and natural disasters

Soil erosion has been a problem ever since man started to cultivate land. It became more critical with increasing population. In the recent decades, forests decreased dramatically in China and soil erosion became more serious. Statistic of relevant data showed that in the past decade, soil fertility has declined on over 2 million hectares, and crop yield decreased by 30% due to soil degradation. The area under soil erosion has expanded to 1.5 million square kilometers in the country.

Caused by soil erosion, the level of riverbed raised dramatically and natural disaster happens frequently. For example, in 1998, based on the statistics by the authority the heavy flooding caused 4,150 death and direct economic lose of 255, 090 million Yuan RMB. ( about US$31, 108 million). There were 6.85 million houses were destroyed. And 18.393 million people had to immigrate to safety places.

1.2 Reclamation of new cultivated land

There are only 0.093 ha cultivated lands per person in China, equaling to only 1/3 of occupancy of the world. At present,the problem becomes more and more severe due to the cultivated land decreasing caused by city development. For example, in 2005 totaling 668 266 ha of cultivated land was lost in the country, of which 212 133 ha caused by constructions, while 53 466 ha caused by disasters.

To bridge the gap of the shortage of cultivated land, the new reclaimed land (including re-managed wasted land) was created. New land reclamation has settled some problem caused by cultivated land shrinkage and became an efficient approach to guarantee food security and farmers income generation.

However, there are many problems about new land reclamation. First of all, much attention is focused on the amount of new land cultivated, while the quality is neglected. During the process of new land reclamation, little attention was paid to quality supervision and evaluation.

Besides, without necessary conservation measures, new land reclamation usually resulted in new points of water and soil loss. Much worse, few farmers are willing to cultivate new land, resulting in land resource wasted and reduced the farmers enthusiasm on the new land reclamation. Thereby, it is highly necessary to enhance the quality of new land reclamation in order to meet the shortage of cultivated land.

1.3 The Dabie Mountains

Dabie mountain 90-1,700 m above sea level with a total area near 100,000 sq. km lies at the boundary area of three provinces, i.e. Anhui, Hubei, and Henan. Caused by various factors, the Dabie Mountain area remains under developed and forms one of the most poorest region of the country with mean annual income around 2000 Yuan RMB per capita (about EU200) in some places. There are more than a dozen of counties identified as Poverty Counties by the central government.

Caused be increasing populations and multiple reasons, the original forests were almost completely destroyed. In the recent years following national economy reform, farmers and government officers have increasing interests in clearing forests for commercial tree (economic forests) production, and called it as ‘forestry revolution’. They cleared vegetation, built earth terrace and planted tea, mulberry tree, and chestnut, etc. in a large scale. Because this kind of cultivation lacked of protection measures, it usually led to more soil erosion, resulting in the decline of soil fertility. Consequently, the commercial trees cannot grow well. And more often, the soil was usually eroded off before commercial trees and new vegetation grew up. Meanwhile, the resulted soil erosion aggravates sediments deposition in the reservoirs and the lower parts of the river basin and caused disastrous consequence.

In 1998, the Dabie Mountain area suffered from serious flooding and landslides. For example, in Changpu Township of Yuexi County, the proposed project area in Anhui Province, there were 1600 houses in 420 families were destroyed. Meanwhile, of 8179 MU (1 hectare = 15 MU) farm land there were 1100 MU (73 ha) farm land lost their harvest for economic loss over 380 000 Yuan RMB (about EU€38 000).

1.4 Vetiver and agroforestry

At a time when there is a great concern about accelerating soil erosion, and the need to conserve, in situ, rainfall, before it leaves the site of its initial impact, vetiver grass grown as contour barriers across sloping lands, provides a low cost and sustainable system that enable these needs to be met (H.W.Messenger, 1995). Many tests showed that vetiver grass can play an important role in not only controlling soil erosion in mountainous and hilly area for sustainable farming, but also for slope stability in engineering field. Besides, vetiver can provide farmers with fodder (especially in sub-tropical China where there are few species of grass for animals) and green manure. The grass was also used for making basket, mattress and some small items (hat, bag for example), rope, curtain, shed roof cover, pulp, edible fungi cultivation and medicine.

Agroforestry offers a viable approach to land-use whereby requirements for food, fuel wood, building materials and fodder can be met while arresting soil erosion and fertility decline.

Since 1995, China Agroforestry Network and China Vetiver Network have been actively involving in land resource protection and sustainable farming in over 10 counties in the Dabie Mountains. The activities include:

Investigations of soil and land use patterns, social and economic conditions; „ Introduced vetiver into Huanggang of Hubei Province and Yuexi of Anhui Province and

found that vetiver grass could grow well in the proposed project area. The newly planted

vetiver can grow 3 m high after one growing season (5-6 months) on the terrace.

„ Tests showed that vetiver successfully protected the newly built terraces from erosion in

3-5 months since planting in Hubei Province.

„ Field demonstration indicated the output of well-protected vetiver based agroforestry

orchards on the terrace, the vetiver-chestnut-wheat system, can reach more than 80,000

Yuan (USD10,000)/ha/yr at 8th year after planting, while the control forest is only 102

Yuan (USD12.4)/ha/yr.

The project is to apply the vetiver system and agroforestry and other technologies to the Dabie Mountain area, the southern part of the mountain in particular, in order to protect commercial trees, reduce the risk of natural disasters caused by poor ecology, and therefore to increase farmers’ income and alleviate poverty in the area. At the same time the food production is deeply concerned.

2. BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT SITES

2.1 Brief information on location of the project

Yuexi is one of the most stressed poor counties as first designated by the state, belonging to Anhui Province. It is located in the hinterland of the Dabie Mountains. The Ganghe Village of Changpu Township is selected as key project sites. The village is the typical example of the whole mountain area in natural and social-economic conditions. The topography of the county is dominated by medium-high mountain, with only scattered river valley basins in the mountains.

2.2 Poverty status and analysis of its causes

2.2.1 Poverty status of the villages

Ganghe is a village as a typical example of natural environment and poor financial condition. The per capita income of many farmers in the village was around 2000 Yuan RMB (EU€200). Some far less than this figure. The village cannot be self-sufficient in grain, especially during natural calamity years. For lack of money, many farmers have long been unable to build houses.

With numerous difficulties in life and existence, the village is also backward in education. Only 70%-80% of the children at school age could finish the study in primary school, and those who can graduate from middle school accounted for around 40%. Because farmers have long been deficient in nutrients, their health condition is poor. When they fall ill after strenuous labor, they have difficulty access to medical treatment. As a result, the average life-span is rather short. Also, there are definite proportions of dysphasia, dementia or semi-dementia.

Since the problem of food and clothes has not been solved, there is no enough grain to raise pigs and poultry and there are no funds to develop commodity production. The only thing that can be exchanged as commodity is one or two heads of pigs per year and 1-1.5 kilogram of eggs per month for each individual household.

2.2.2 Analysis of the cause of poverty

The poverty in the Dabie Mountain area has resulted from many factors:

(A) Little arable land and low production level

In the villages of Dabie Mountains, the average per capita cultivated land is around 0.4-0.5 MU (1 MU = 1/15 ha). The soil layer is shallow and the fertility is low caused by erosion. On average, each MU of land can only produce 400 kg of grain. The grain produced by local farmers in a year can not meet their needs. The shortages in food plus lack of funds have resulted in an extremely low input into the land.

(B) Low productivity of forestry

Although in the villages of Dabie Mountains the average per capita area of mountain is 5-8 MU, the forests have suffered from severe destruction in the recent 60 years. Today, there are merely scattered masson pines, wild bamboo, groves and weeds, most of which can only be used as fuel. Statistical data over the past years show that the output value of forestry for villages only occupied 5-25% of the total value of agricultural output, the average income from every MU of mountain was only 7-80 Yuan RMB, and that the average per capita income from forests was about 400 Yuan RMB/year. Failure to make full use of the extensive mountain lands is another important cause of the poverty.

(C) Fragile ecozone

Based on wide survey and investigations, most soils of the Dabie Mountain area are derived from granite subject to water erosion. Following increasing population farmers have to cultivate new sloping land for food, fuel, and cash, which destroy existing vegetation cover and aggravate soil and water erosion as lacking of soil conservation measures.

(D) Poor education and health-care facilities

With traffic difficulty and few contacts with outer world, a considerable amount of villagers are illiterate or semi-illiterate. They commonly adhere to past practice and show indifference towards scientific farming, natural resource protection, and commodity production. This makes it quite difficult for some advanced agrotechniques to be introduced and popularized.

(E) Lack of scientific planning

For years, local authorities and farmers cleared large area of forests for planting timber trees (Chinese Fir, for example) or commercial trees. Because this kind of developing lacks of scientific planning and market analysis, it consequently failed and caused new ecological problems.

(F) Neglected area by government and international agencies

As Dabie Mountains forms a demarcation line of two big rivers, the Yangtze River and Huaihe River, while most of the projects in China have been carried out based on river basins. Therefore, this area has been commonly neglected. Furthermore, this poor area has been also neglected by international agencies since the mountain is located in eastern China, a relatively developed region, while most international agencies paid attention to northwest or southwest area of the country.

3. OBJECTIVES AND DURATION

The objectives of the proposed project are to help farmers get rid of poverty at the same time to conserve soil and water by:

Introducing and raising awareness of soil and natural resources protection and the importance of vetiver in soil erosion control and sustainable agriculture, earth work stabilization, disaster prevention, sustainable farming, and other numerous multiple uses among policy makers, farmers, extension workers and technicians in the Dabie Mountains.
Introducing and extending proper agroforestry technology, such as hedgerow intercropping of vetiver–economic trees–food crops system; nitrogen-fixing trees, shrubs, and plants for soil fertility maintenance; contour planting technology, crop diversity for erosion control, etc.
Generating income by establishing vetiver-protected high quality commercial trees and vegetables on terrace, and animal husbandry, etc.
Increasing food production by intercropping of commercial tree with crops, reasonable application of fertilization based on soil and crop sample analysis.
Promoting livestock and organic farming by raising cattle.
Helping women improve social and economic condition by organizing vetiver handicraft training and demonstration on tea production, etc.
Extending the above technologies and experiences to the whole Dabie Mountain, the whole country and the world area through wide information dissemination, public media, and internet.

This is a two years project started in May 2009, and ended in April 2011.

4. REMEDIAL MEASURES TO BE TAKEN

Through on-the-spot investigations and studies, wide-ranging discussions with national vetiver and agroforestry network experts and technicians, visiting different types of farm households, learning from good typical examples in the surrounding areas, discussed with farmers at their home and in the field we proposed the following measures which have productivity, sustainability, and adaptability:

4.1 Income generating

Mountain land is the main resource in the Dabie Mountains. Economic trees with regional priority and good quality products will be planted on different kind of land. Altogether 300 000 tea tees, 12 000 bamboo will be planted. All of commercial trees will be planted and managed with standard regulations in order that the trees can grow well, produce high profit, and will not cause new soil erosion problem.

The Contracted Cattle Raising will be arranged, totaling 35 cattle (for meat) will be raised by 35 families. Vetiver pruning will be used as part of fodder. It will help each family to get income for over 4000 Yuan/per cattle in 3 years. Totaling 140 000 Yuan (about EU€14000) will be generated in 3 years. Most important, the inputted funds will be returned to the government in 3 years and to arrange another 35 families. In this way the funds will be used sustainably.

4.2 Increasing food production and food self-sufficient

In Changpu, high-yielding fields only constitute 15% of the total farmland which led to food shortage. To increase food production, food crops will be intercropped with newly developed economic trees. Meantime, the intercropping will reduce bare land duration and increase land surface vegetation coverage, therefore reduce soil erosion.

Vetiver pruning will be used as fodder and mulch to improve soil moisture and fertility in order to guarantee food production.

Rational fertilization will be used based on different soils from granite and gneiss and the analysis of soil and plant samples, which can increase yield by about 10%. Organic manure will be increased by husbandry development which can also increase yield and benefit the sustainable agriculture.

4.3 Vetiver and Agroforestry technology for erosion control, high quality commercial tree production and food increase

The slope land with newly planted commercial trees may have serious soil erosion in ecological fragile area derived from granite, if without necessary protection measures. Vetiver technology will be introduced and contour-planted as hedges on terrace and slope farmland for erosion control. Totaling 1,600,000 vetiver tillers will be planted. Vetiver nurseries will be established based on small farm holders. Cuts of vetiver plants will be used as fodder for animal and as mulch for soil moisture maintenance. Proper agroforestry technologies will be introduced, demonstrated, and extended including: A-Frame contour planting of crops and trees, living hedges of vetiver and multipurpose nitrogen-fixing shrubs for soil erosion control and soil reclamation, intercropping crops in newly developed commercial trees, etc.

4.4 Vetiver handicraft training to enhance women’s social and economic position

Since the benefit from erosion control may not be obviously showed in a short time, some farmers are less interested in vetiver. To solve this problem we need to help farmers earn direct income from vetiver, while vetiver handicraft production should be one of the most effective solutions. In this way vetiver leaves can be used for handicraft production, while the roots and stems can conserve soil.

Thailand did an excellent job in this field supported by The King of Thailand. To disseminate vetiver handicraft technology to China, 3 Thai technicians were invited to Guangxi to train 20 local farmers in 2007. Now most of them grasped handicraft process.

4.4.1 Objectives of the training course

The objective of the program was to select and invite 4 trainers from Guangxi Province to help farmers in the Dabie Mountains learn vetiver handicraft technology in order to generate profit from vetiver grass and encourage farmers to plant more vetiver for environmental protection. In addition, women will improve their economy and social position when they grasp necessary technology.

4.4.2 Timetable of the training

The training course needed 2 weeks: Day 1: Trainers arrival at Nanjing from Guangxi Province. Day 2: Travel from Nanjing to Yuexi County. Day 3-4: Opening ceremony and initiation:

  1. Introduction to vetiver for soil erosion control and slope stabilization 
  2. Introduction to vetiver handicraft production 
    1. The preparation of vetiver leaves 
    2. -Cutting of vetiver leaves
      1. Selection of vetiver leaves 
      2. Boiling and drying of vetiver leaves 
    3. -To dye vetiver leaves
  3. Preparation of the mold 

-Making of the mold for boxes, hats, boskets, etc. Day 5-12: Making of vetiver handicraft products

Boxes and trays (2 days)
Hats (2 days)
Baskets (2 days)

-Mat (2 days) Day 13: Handicraft finishing and decorating

– Sulfur fuming

-Lacquer glazing Day 14: Evaluation, selection and awarding to 6 most successful trainees; Closing ceremony,

Departure of trainees; Day 15: Departure of trainers and organizers.

4.4.3 Training structure The program included:

„ Key presentations introducing the main procedurals for vetiver handicraft production,

„ Poster presentations on vetiver for soil erosion control,

„ Exhibition of handcraft products from Guangxi,

„ Power-point and VCD performance,

„ Hand to hand practice,

„ Group discussion,

„ Exhibitions and evaluation of trainees’ handcraft products,

„ Questionnaire and conclusion,

„ Final evaluation and awarding to best trainees,

„ Extended training by the trainees and through information distribution.

„ Distribution of vetiver planting materials to 20 trainees for the continuation of handicraft production.

4.4.4 Personnel

Four minority women from Longsheng County of Guangxi Province were selected as

trainers. To guarantee training quality, the number of trainees were limited to about 20 selected

women. Most of them came from Yuexi of Anhui Province with age from 18 to 40, depending on

their knowledge background.

4.5 Continuation of handicraft training and trainers selection in Guangxi Province Supported by EED and The Vetiver Network International, the first Vetiver Handicraft

Training Course was organized very successfully in Longshen of Guangxi Province of China on

21 Oct.- 6 Nov., 2007. Everybody felt that the training was the best one and the most successful: ¾ At the beginning of the training course, an organization was established that consisted of many important people from multiple cooperation parties. Each person of the Leading Group had its detailed responsibility. Everything was planned and arranged very clearly and implemented smoothly. Around 10 key persons from various institutions were actively involved in the organization and in-course service, of which 4 scientists from China Vetiver Network worked at the training site. ¾ The training course got multiple supports from several international partners, including EED, The Vetiver Network International, Office of the Royal Development Projects Board of Thailand, and Industry Promotion Ministry of Thailand. ¾ Both trainers and trainees all worked very hard. Trainees learnt very earnestly, while trainers taught very patiently. Besides, logistics people did a very good job to guarantee the implementation efficiently. Our guests, the three trainers were very happy

with logistics arrangement. ¾ In addition, the trainers brought China many necessary tools that might be difficult to found in China in a short time and enabled the training course implemented successfully.

Although the training course lasted 2 weeks, it is not enough for minority farmers to grasp full technology. When the training course finished participants returned homes. Only few participants continue their handicraft work. Through discussion with farmers and organizers in different institutions following problems remain to be solved:

a) Two-weeks’ training is not enough for farmers to fully grasp whole skills. During the training course some farmers produced good hats, while others produced bags. It is not easy for all of the participants to produce different items. We must re-organize these participants and to provide them an opportunity to learn each other.

b) Caused by the shortage of vetiver pruning, participants could hardly continue their handicraft production after the training.

c) Considering traffic facility all of the participants came from Batan Village during the first training course. There was no person came from Zhoujia Village. It is recognized that we have to organize a training course in Zhoujia Village.

d) Caused by the lack of tools that was brought by Thai trainers, only very few people could study the production of mat.

To strengthen skills of the OLD trainees and to disseminate vetiver handicraft skill to nearby villages in Guanxi Province and to the Dabie Mountain and possibly other mountainous area in China it was necessary before handicraft training held in Anhui of Dabie Mountain to organize another two training courses in Guangxi Province:

4.5.1 The advanced training (China 2nd Vetiver Handicraft Training Course) The training was organized at the same location of Batan Village in Longshen of Guangxi Province. Total 20 farmers who participated in the first training course were invited. One week was arranged. The participants learnt from each other and grasped new kills from her colleagues and improved product quality. One hour discussion was arranged each day for this purpose.

As incentives to participants, products in good quality were collected and bought by the organizer for trial marketing, or brought to Anhui Province of the Dabie Mountain for exhibition.

4.5.2 Primary training at Zhoujia Village of Longshen County of Guangxi Province (China 3rd Vetiver Handicraft Training)

Four best participants from the above training were selected as trainers. Totaling 20 participants from Zhoujia Village were arranged as trainees, most of which were minority women. It took 14 days. The selected trainers were also teachers for Anhui handicraft training (the 4th China Vetiver Handicraft Training Course). The structure of the course was similar to that in

4.4.3.

4.6 Systematic technical training and extension

Observations and discussions revealed that there is high enthusiasm among farmers who see training and extension as an important income generating opportunity. Because the implement area of the proposed project is limited while the Dabie Mountain is a large area, training and extension would be a critical measure to spread the experiences obtained from the project and will be a key component of the project, especially when the original extension system met problem during the economy reform.

4.6.1 Content of training and extension

After discussing with experts, officials and farmers in and around the project site and other regions, the main contents are as following:

¾ Reconstructing of eroded terrace and sloping land;

¾ The importance of water and soil conservation;

¾ The characteristic and growth habit of vetiver, its role and efficiency on conserving

water and soil, the technology of reproduction;

¾ Agroforestry technology that can increase farmers income, enhance food security and

prevent soil erosion;

¾ The importance of plant and crop biodiversity;

¾ The planting technology of nitrogen fixation trees, bushes and crops, which can

improve soil fertility and realize sustainable agriculture;

¾ Contour planting technology;

¾ Cattle husbandry and disease control;

¾ Planting and management of economic trees;

¾ Multiple utilization of vetiver pruning.

4.6.2 Methods of training and extension

Regular training: Classroom lecture training combined with field practice.

Self-study: we will prepare plenty of training materials for free distribution to let farmers’ self-study. Experts and technicians will be arranged to give field guidance. These materials will give a chance for whose farmers who can’t directly join the training.

Field visitation: We will organize farmers to visit the better demonstration plot and promote the farmers to learn from each other. Sometime, bad examples will also be visited as a lesson.

Extension will be achieved through the production and wide dissemination of different training materials.

4.6.3 Materials of training and extension

Training manual: considering local nature and social economic condition, we will compile specific training manual. The manual not only refer to the advanced technology but also better skills collected in the nearby region so that farmers are easy to accept. In view of lower education level of local farmers, pictures and photos will be vividly included in the manual.

Posters: color posters that show farmers fundamental knowledge of sustainable farming will be produced to let farmers to put on their family wall in order to enhance their memory.

Newsletters and FACT Sheets will be produced in large quantities and distributed to both Dabie Mountainous area and other regions in southern China.

Internet and public media: The technologies and experience will be widely disseminated to the project site, whole country and the world through internet and public media in order to enlarge the influence at home and abroad.

Vetiver New Year’s Greeting Cards: produced in large quantities and distributed to many different people during the Chinese New Year holiday called Spring Festival.

4.6.4 Personnel of the training

The trainers are mainly the experts and the technicians who come from all over China, Anhui province and the county. The duty of the experts are to compile the training and extension materials, while local technicians and Master farmers who have good quality will be invited to present lectures in order to settle out the difficulty of the dialect. Meanwhile, we will organize a supervision group to give field guidance. We will also invite some experts to give special report.

The trainees come from the project village, including local governmental officials. The farmers directly accepted training is expected to reach 600, most of them (about 70%) are woman, and indirect trainees are expected to reach several thousands mainly through large quantity dissemination of training materials.

Donor representative visit China Vetiver Talk to local technicians Network
Local government visit China Vetiver Network. Introducing the Vetiver System to local officials
Discuss project details with the government Investigation in the field

China Vetiver Networ. Project Progress Report (No.1)
Project Title: Vetiver Based Agroforestry for Poverty Alleviation and Soil Conservation in

Dabie Mountains of China Project No. 20090007E Report Period: May – November 2009

1. THE INITIATION OF THE PROJECT

To prepare the project a group from China Vetiver Network visited the project site Changpu Township of Yuexi County on 16-18 June 2009. The group met local governors and officials, organized training courses, discussed different project components, and carried out field investigations.

In the morning of 17 June a meeting was organized by the township government in Shuifan Village. The governmental officials, technicians and leaders of villages attended the meeting. During the meeting Prof. Xu introduced Vetiver System and its development in China and in the world, especially its function for soil erosion control, rural infrastructure protection and soil moisture and fertility retention. His lecture generated great interests in attendants. They read Vetiver Newsletters, Posters, booklets and books and raised questions.

During the meeting, Prof. Xu also introduced vetiver handicraft training course held in Longshen of Guangxi Province in 2007 and the development of vetiver handicraft in Thailand. Through introduction local government official get general information and have high interest in vetiver handicraft training course that was expected to be held later in November 2009.

Later, Prof. Wang introduced the project and related agreement and budget. Detailed project components were discussed and budgeting timetable was proposed. On 11-14 October when the project was finally approved Prof. Wang and Prof. Huang visited the project sites in Anhui Province and investigated in the field. More project details were discussed. Through discussion they decided that in this year the most important issue was to organize vetiver handicraft trainings. Some details were decided (Table 1)

Table 1 Considerations on vetiver handicraft training course in Anhui Province

Items Considerations
Time
November 2009
Location Culture Center of Changpu Township
Trainees 20 from Ganghe and Shuifan villages
Logistic arrangement Changpu Township Government
In situ organizer The Forestry Station of the township
Medium to be invited County and provincial TV stations

2 THE IMPLEMENTATION OF VETIVER HANDICRAFT TRAININGS

Since the final approval of the project and related funding were seriously delayed, the only components to be implemented was vetiver handicraft trainings. As planned, there were totally 3 vetiver handicraft training courses organized in October and November 2009. The details are described below:

2.1 The 1st vetiver handicraft training course in Batan Village in 2009It was held on 22-28 October 2009 in Lipai of Batan Village of Sishui Township in Guangxi province. Totaling 20 participants involved, most of them attended the handicraft training in 2007. The course provided a good opportunity for them to learn from each other and for re-practice. A photo exhibition was prepared to tell participants:

  • The basic characteristics of vetiver grass; 
  • Vetiver for agriculture production; 
  • Vetiver for engineering and environmental protection; 
  • The information dissemination in China. Although the course was limited to one week good results obtained: 
  • The most poplar products the bags and hats were re-produced. Compared with the products created in 2007 the quality was improved greatly, that told participants that before the products enter market quality should be further improved through more practice. 
  • Since the participants grasped the basic technology therefore they could design and produce new products. 
  • Some people were organized to visit tourism market and realized that the cheap tourism products have great market potential such as the fan made of grass. The participants start to design similar products using vetiver grass. 
  • Some farmers designed and produced new products such as vases and small bags (just for fun or as souvenirs) which was small and relatively easy to make and may have great potential in local tourism markets. During the course Mr. Bi, the Director of local organization team introduced method of how to make models with used boxes made from foam plastic. He also taught participants how to plant vetiver grass. To encourage individual participants to continue to make handicrafts after the course, the planting 
    1. materials will be distributed to participants early next spring. Participants also discussed the method of dye of leaves. Since the dye chemicals are alkalescence, colorless vinegar should be used to adjust pH value in order that the color can be more attractive and can stand long time. The same with the training course in 2007, at the end of the course awarder were selected by voting. The difference was that in 2007 the voting was done by organizers, while this time both organizers and participants engaged in. Each person has one vote. At last 6 participants won awards. Before voting, the parameters were proposed in order that the selection could be more substantial and acceptable. Each awarder got money in addition to a collection of photos showing different handicrafts made in Thailand. The selection of trainers for further trainings was another important issue. It was requested that trainers: 
    2. Should grasp all of the production procedurals,
  1. can make at least one product in high quality, 
  2. are patient in teaching others, 
  3. can describe key skills clearly, 
  4. have good health (especially for trainers going to Anhui Province), 
  5. can leave hometown during the training period with little family work to do. Almost all of the participants self-nominated as trainers. Based on their skills and health total 6 of 

them were selected, of which 4 as trainers for trainings in Anhui province.

2.2 The 2nd vetiver handicraft training course in Zhoujia of Guangxi Province in 2009The second vetiver handicraft training course of 2009 was organized on 29 Oct. to 11 Nov. 2009 in Zhoujia Village where the Yao minority is concentrated. Totaling over 24 participants attended. Possibly caused by transportation difficulties, farmers live in a Closed Circumstance with little exchange to the outside world and are less interested in learning new technology. They do not have strict time notion. For example the course was fixed to start at 9:00 o’clock, but few farmers came at 12:00 since they were “Busy” with attending a banquet. The village director told us that we have to be patient working in this area. However, there were still “wise” farmers there. An aged farmer took his handicraft made of bamboo attended the course. Since he has skills it was much easier for him to grasp vetiver handicraft production.

In the high mountains the condition was rough. There is no classroom and the training was held under a corridor. The table was temporarily formed with black boards. Four persons from Lipai were invited to be trainers, in addition to another two who were voluntarily attended the course as trainers. For practice convenience, the participants were divided into 3 groups. General speaking most trainers and trainees worked hard, except for few who had family work to do did not attend the course on time. In addition, during training course many villagers visited the spot from time to time which indicated that the Yao minority women, in deed, are interested in vetiver handicraft but they worry if they can grasp the skill or if the products can find market. Some women indicated that as they are developing tourism in their village they hope when tourists eat at their home they can sell handicraft at the same time.

However, since the dificult traffic with poor communications some participants still did not know where the grass leaves came from. The local organizer guaranteed to distribute vetiver planting material to them in order the handicraft can be sustainable.

At same time the trainers got preparation for the training in Anhui province. One simple machine was prepared for making mat and a trainer repeated the practice of making mat to grasp the technique better. Some other tools were also prepared so that the training course could initiate on time and implement smoothly.

2.3 The 3rd vetiver handicraft training course in Changpu of Anhui Province in 2009In early November 2009 when the 2nd vetiver handicraft training was in process in Guangxi Province the Changpu Township Government in Anhui Province started to prepare their handicraft training. Based on the self-nomination 22 women were selected as participants, 2 more than schedule. Their age is from 20 to 45. Most of them were graduated from junior middle school or primary school, except 2 from high middle school. They came from Ganghe and Shuifan villages respectively. In addition, they selected training site at township and prepared necessary tools. Chine Vetiver Network prepared dye chemical, tools and foam-plastic board that was used to make models.

To save time, Mr. Zhang of Township Forestry Extension Station prepared 450kg dry vetiver leaves During National Day holidays, that were enough for the training course. There was still some dry grass left when the course was finished. They were distributed to the participants to continue their work.

During the opening ceremony the directors from the county and township government attended. They expressed their thanks to the donor of EED, the trainers, and China Vetiver Network and requested participants to take this valuable opportunity to study hard.

Mr. Bi, representative of guangxi trainers introduced the basic procedure of vetiver handicraft. Prof. Liyu Xu, Coordinator of China Vetiver Network introduced the development of vetiver technology in China and the great potential of vetiver for erosion control and slope stabilization.

To guarantee the safety of the workshop and protect fire the local organizer put outstanding slogan of “No Smoking” on the wall.

During the whole course, the township government appointed 5 persons responsible for the service of the training. They were:

Ms. Fang Xiantai, the director of Township Women’s Federation and Deputy Director of the Party Committee

Mr. Cu Pengfei from Township Forestry Extension Station

Mr. Wang Xianguo responsible for propaganda and internet of government

Mr. Zhang Huasheng also from Township Forestry Extension Station

Mr. Xu Haipo from Township Culture Center

Their hard work guaranteed the great success of the training course. They provided logistics service and solved problem and provided materials which were needed from time to time. Caused by bad weather, the heavy snow, the local government arranged two vehicles to collect participants from two villages in order to guarantee the normal participation of all participants.

At the end of the training, 9 awarders were selected by voting (Table 2), which was more than other 2 trainings since many participants produced good products. In addition, to encourage participants to cooperate each other the government established Cooperation Award for 2 participants who join together to make mat.

At the end of the training course vetiver planting material were distributed to all of the participants. The government requested them to plant carefully and asked technicians to check the planting quality. During the training course many women from the township requested to participate in the course or asked for the products. Meanwhile the township government also expressed their high enthusiasm in organizing additional trainings.

Table 2 Awardees of the 3 training courses

Location Batan (Guangxi) Zhoujia (Guangxi) Changpu(Anhui)
Items Awarder Product Awarder Product Awarder Product
1st Award Shi Lingyan Basket Liu Dan Small bag Wang Lingfang Bag
2nd Award Wu Songlian Hat Li Yunping Basket Xu Lixia Vase
Hou Shizhen Bag Wang Shiyan Flower basket Liu Yonghong Hat
Zhou Shuwei Basket
3rd Award Shi Xianzhou Vase Wang Peilan Bowl Liu Dongmei Small bag
Zeng Chunhua Box Wang Shiquan Pen vase Yan Taolin Small bag
Hou Lianfen Bag Wang Maofang Basket Wang Zhuanhong Hat
Zhou Yuzhi Small bag
Wang Haixia Fruit container
Cooperation Award Liu Yonghong Mat
Liu Dongmei

Generally, the 3rd training was one of the most successful training:

  • • Although lots of time was spent during the transportation, participants made many products, over 6 the most for one person. Some people made a vase in just one evening. 
  • • Every participants went on their work at home in the evening. 
    • • When the course was finished the left dry grass was distributed to the participants and all of the 
    • persons wished to get more dry grass and dyed leaves in order to continue working after the course.
  • During whole course all of the participants stayed whole day without absence. 
  • The competition was very critical. Each person wished to get award. Some appeared very unhappy when they did not own 1st award. 

During the training course, short time meetings were organized for several times aimed at solving problems appeared during the training, improving quality and work efficiency. For example, when most participants produced first product a small bag, a meeting was organized. Participants compared and evaluated their products and told the difference. The main points include:

  • The space between rows should be carefully arranged, not too wide and not too narrow. 
  • The leaves should be at same age. The old leaves have coiled edges, which was not good for handicrafting. Therefore the grass should be cut at 3 months’ age. 
  • The grass should be in good condition of growth; otherwise the leaves would be too short. 
  • When one leave was to finish another leave should be arranged at a proper position and the joint should be well hided. The step leave should be wringed to avoid sliding off. 
  • The following-up product to be produced should be selected based on production speed. For those whose process is fast a bigger model can be used. 
2.4 The information dissemination

During the implantation of various project components we can not forget the most important issue: the erosion control. This year we produced 3 issues of Vetive Newsletter so far. The main contents are:

  • Vetiver Based Agroforestry for Poverty Alleviation and Soil Conservation in Dabie Mountains of China: the project introduction; 
  • Recent vetiver development in the world by Richard Grimshaw, president of The Vetiver Network International; 
  • The vetiver applications in Ethiopia of Africa; 
  • New awards released by The Vetiver Network International; 
  • Vetiver applications and development in China in the past 20 years; 
  • Vetiver system and groundwater recharge; 
  • River and levee stabilization through the use of the Vetiver System; 
  • Report on the Dr. Warning’s visit to China Vetiver Network. 

In addition, the booklet titled Vetiver Grass: a Thin Hedge against Erosion, color poster, and the FACT Sheets: Vetiver and Soil Erosion were distributed to both governmental officials and farmers. When some farmers asked for more information, we also met their needs and sent them Big Books that contained hundred color photos.

3 EVALUATION AND FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS

3.1 The problem with the vetiver handicraft trainings

Transportation of traineesSince farmers live in the mountains it is not easy for participants to gather together. Usually it takes one hour or two hours. As a result lots of time lost. Besides, women farmers have to take care of their children and have to do their routine farm work. Therefore, the training efficiency was low. Occasionally the local township government use car to collect participants that saved time. It is suggested that a mini-car or bus will be quite useful for participants transportation.

Low education background: Another problem is that some minorities have little interest in learn new technology possibly because they are less educated during the long history. It is not easy for them to access new technology and change their habit. What we can do is patient and repeat mobilization.

3.2 Importance of vetiver handicraft training and extension for farmers’ own useBefore the products enter market there is huge demand for farmers’ own applications because the government issued the limitation for the applications of plastic bags, while vetiver bags, baskets, and containers are the best substitutes to replace plastic articles. The production of such items need no costs and what they need to do is just to plant vetiver and make handicrafts at their own homes. It is a top task for participants to extend vetiver handicraft technology to their relatives, neighbors, and bordering villages. Once the handicraft is extended the use of plastics will be reduced dramatically in the villages. The extension will play an important role in rural environmental protection in the large mountain area. Therefore the importance of vetiver handicraft training and extension can not be overemphasized because it can help farmers make many different items, such as bags, baskets, containers, vase, benches, chairs, lamps, pillow, mat, animals (for fun) etc. for farming and for live. It can not only help farmers reduce costs and but also can bring farmers a colorful life.

Most interesting issue is that in addition to participants, many women farmers hope to learn vetiver handicraft. A typical example is that Ms. He Shizhen in Batan Village learnt vetiver handicraft from her aunt and made a beautiful bag. As a result, during the close ceremony Prof. Huang from CVN pointed out that as a first step we should encourage participants continuing to make handicrafts and to use vetiver handicraft and reduce the application of plastics, which would play a significant role in rural environmental protection and improvement of farmers’ life. At same time the participants should help their neighbors and relatives to produce and use vetiver handicraft.

Generally, through the 3 trainings we found great potential of vetiver handicrafts and see the bright prospect. Some farmers started to design new products based on their own use or local market. During each training course several trainers were selected which make it possible for further trainings. We also found the possible candidate who may organize and coordinate handicraft production and vetiver planting.

3.3 The marketing of vetiver handicraft productsThrough investigation to local tourism market, evaluation to the products made by awardees the followings should be taken in consideration before the handicrafts can really enter market:

  • Quality control should be a top issue to be considered. Each procedural should be carefully managed for example the age of leaves should not be over 3 months when cutting, the leave edges should clear out completely, the leaves should be heated in boiled water for 3 minutes and then dried completely. 
  • Products should be updated from time to time. New simple products should be put on priority position and designed based on extensive investigation to the tourism market. We will establish award for those whose new products has high potential in the market in order to encourage farmers to create more and better products. 
  • In addition we will help them win awards and certificate from The Vetiver Network International to encourage them design new products. 
  • The production should be market oriented. Further investigation to the tourism market should be carried out from time to time to design more prospective products. 
  • Through investigation we found that we should encourage farmers to be private managers acting as agencies to organize the participants to produce high quality products in batch and send them to the 

    markets. Neither government nor NGO can direct the whole process from design to production to marketing. The burden of marketing should shift onto business agencies acted by Wise Farmers. What we (both GO and NGO) can do is to promote the Birth of Wise Farmers (Fig.1).

During the training course participants should learn all of the procedurals of the handicraft and grasp the technology to make relatively complicated products in order that they can design new products based on different needs. General speaking, it is different between domestic markets and export markets. For export market, the products should be Bigger and more delicacy and the price can be much higher. However, for domestic markets the products can be smaller and simple with low price so that farmers can get profit through large quantity production.

3.4 Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Agriculture: new project consideration

The project generated great influence in the near-by area since 2007. Many local authorities wish to launch similar project in their area. On request of Agriculture Bureau of Gulin City, Governor of XingAn County, and Agriculture Bureau of XingAn County, 2 scientists from China Vetiver Network were invited to visit Baolin Village, Mochuan Township of XingAn County.

Fig.1 Skeleton schedule from training to applications to marketing

It is a minority village located in the remote mountains with traffic difficulties. The farmers are accustomed to slash-and-burn agriculture. They burn trees and then cultivate millet and sweet potato for around 2 years. Because the slope is steep and erosion is extremely high, soil fertility declines dramatically. Then the land has to leave for trees for about 15 years, and then burn again. Therefore farmers are very poor. Many get income for less than 1000 Yuan/year. Some men over 40 years old can not marry caused by lacking of money.

Recently few farmers join together to cultivate mushroom and got a considerable profit. However, the materials used came from hard wood rather than bushes or grass. It would be dangerous. If the production increases the forests will be destroyed and soil erosion can be more serious. We are considering using vetiver to replace hard wood. It needs a special technology.

In addition, it is considered that vetiver based agroforestry may replace ancient slash-and-burn agriculture practice in order to control serious soil erosion and increase soil fertility. More details remain to be done.

4 PREPARATION FOR OTHER PROJECT COMPONENTS

During the 3rd training course held in Anhui province the other project components were also prepared in order that they can be implemented on time and smoothly in the near future. The organizers from CVN, the township government, the village directors held meetings, visited project sites, and discussed with project farmers. They also investigated the project implementation sites and checked the quality. Details will be reported in the next progress report.

First vetiver handicraft training course in Guangxi of China 2009

The opening ceremony. Study very carefully
Small meetings to solve problems. Learn to make model
Learn in groups Small bag made by new participant.
Products for awarding, Dyed leaves
A bag Products and producer A small souvenir. Learn to make mat
Exhibition of photos and vetiver handicrafts
The first award. The close ceremony
The second prize. Six prize winners

Second vetiver handicraft training course in Guangxi 2009

The training located in the remote mountains Introducing Vetiver System
Preparing the workshop Introducing vetiver handicraft
Information distribution to participants. Selecting dry leaves Many women wish to participate
in the course Model making by a trainer

Training the minorities A good start

Study hard. Learn from each other. Give me a hand. A bag is in process

A hat is in process A container is to be finished
A hat is to be finished. Visitor like handicraft.
Visitor and handicraft. Pupils like handicraft
A cap is finished A hat made by the girl

Many handicrafts produced

Part of the handicrafts. Pencil container. Distribution of voting tickets
Government officials of Guilin City investigate fruit. Awarders and their products trees planted in
2007 during the course
Officials and participants Group photo of participants and organizers

 

3rd Vetiver handicraft training course in Anhui of China 2009

The opening ceremony of the workshop
Photo exhibition introducing VS, Start to make first article
Women like vetiver information, Dye vetiver leaves
To make models. The closing ceremony
Learn to make mat. Presentation by participant representative
The trainer evaluate the products A bag A hat A bag
Sample of products. A hat and producer
Very happy man with a hat. A mat
A bag and its producer. Organizers and participants
Products for awarding. Prize winners