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TVNI has been informed by the Chaipattana Foundation ­– the ICV7 organizer and host in Thailand -- that due to the COVID-19 pandemic ICV-7 will be postponed until 2021. The specific dates are, as yet, under consideration. They will be announced soon, as will the new deadlines for the King of Thailand Awards.




You are invited to a Zoom webinar

When: Apr 12, 2021 01:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time  (6.00 AM Pacific Standard Time)


The presenters will be Dick Grimshaw and Jim Smyle

Please register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive an automatic confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

You should also note that this webinar will be live streamed to Youtube -  link:  It will thereafter remain as part of the TVNI collection at the TVNI Webinar and Video channel:

You are welcome to share the information with others. I am sure those in the Far East and Pacific may well prefer to watch the live stream at some other time more convenient.  Hopefully the webinar will be of interest for many people including students.
This Webinar will be  the first in a series that will focus on the application of the Vetiver Grass Technology.

The second webinar is scheduled for May 17th 202i with a focus on Vetiver Handicrafts and the process and management relating to their production and some of the social benefits and consequences

Sharing Vetiver Projects on iNaturalist -- NEW PROJECT


Goals of The Vetiver Network International (TVNI) include creating a worldwide community of vetiver enthusiasts, raising awareness about the many benefits, and tracking vetiver projects. Our facebook group has become a wonderful resource for many of you and we are proud of the community it has created. We had concerns about the preservation of the facebook posts and important discussions, so we also created the vetiver forum (

However, neither of those help us track and map vetiver plantings. To provide a tracking method, we started using the iVGT website created in Thailand to add as many vetiver sites as possible, but it has had some technical difficulties and participation hasn’t been as high as we had hoped. We recently realized there may be a better and much more user-friendly website that we can all use.

iNaturalist ( is a website and smartphone app for people to share pictures of animals and plants and to help identify species. It is used as a social network to build community, learn about nature, and provide open access data for researchers. It is very user-friendly, and you can easily search by species or location and view results as a list or within a map. The desktop website is the main hub with a lot of great functions while the smartphone app is a simpler set-up that helps ID and locate in the field.

Although its core focus is on wild species in their natural habitats, iNaturalist offers the ability to share “captive” or “cultivated” plants and animals that were placed at a certain location by humans. This includes a range of observations, from animals at a zoo to a flower planted in a garden. This is where most of our vetiver applications fit in.

The iNaturalist provides the ability to create a “Project” to track certain species or in specific areas, as well as build community and participation, so TVNI recently created a project page called “Vetiver Systems”. We hope you all join iNaturalist and start sharing your vetiver projects!

Getting Started

First, create a profile at Once you are set up, you can change your language within the website by clicking on your account profile circle in the top right corner and then clicking on Account Settings, then Account. They have a large list of languages available, so this should work out well for our global community.

Adding a Vetiver Project

A picture of a plant/animal is called an “observation”. For general guidance on how to add observations, visit:

1. To add a picture of vetiver, click “Upload” and select ONE photo from your file (You’ll have a chance to add more photos of that site later). Complete the requested information, including species, date of the picture, and location. For the Notes, add a brief summary of the vetiver project (i.e. purpose, size, details, results). Please avoid commercial advertising or spam-like content because it will get you banned from the website.

2. Next, check the Captive/Cultivated box. Most of the vetiver plants used in Vetiver Systems are sterile and cultivated, so it is important to list it as such in iNaturalist.  The website’s main focus is on wild plants and animals and it uses a multi-step process for identifications, which helps researchers with their studies as well as assist the program with recognizing patterns for automated suggestions. To accomplish this, the website initially labels non-cultivated or non-captive observations “Needs ID”, then as the community agrees on an identification, it becomes “Research Grade.” If an observation is checked off as captive or cultivated, it does not undergo those labeling steps and instead simply marked as “Casual.” This is okay for our purpose! To learn more, visit:

3. After that, “Tags” are key words about your vetiver project. This will help people search and track vetiver sites based on type. Here are some examples of tags that you can use:

· Erosion control
· Slope stabilization
· Nursery/propagation
· Grazing/forage
· Wastewater
· Essential oil
· Phytoremediation
· Landscaping
· Handicrafts
· Roof thatch

4. The next step allows you to add “Observations Fields” to help provide detail. We set up 5 observation fields that we encourage you to use. Start typing vetiver in the space and the options will appear:

  • # of plants
  • Area in hectares
  • Soil pH
  • Soil type
  • Annual rainfall in mm

5. Click “Submit 1 Observation” to finalize. Once you finalize the “observation”, you can add more photos of that vetiver planting, add or change the tags, or edit any other information as needed.

Please note it is important to add only specific sites where vetiver has been observed. Also, if you have been working with vetiver in the past and have photos of vetiver applications at known locations and dates, you are welcome and encouraged to add them as observations.

The Vetiver Systems Project Page

Your vetiver “observation” will automatically be added to our Vetiver Systems Project page, but you need to “JOIN” the project for it to show up on your vetiver observation. You can find our Project by typing “Vetiver Systems” in the general Search at the top of the page. Once you are on our page, you can see all the pictures, either as a list or on a map. You can click on each one to see the details or add comments. There are already some earlier vetiver observations from other iNaturalist users.

We welcome you to check out other observations in our project so far and tell others about our page. You can leave a comment on any observation or vetiver system, but be aware, COMMERCIAL ADVERTIZING is not allowed and we will ban you from the group.

Another great feature of the Vetiver Systems Project page is our ability to post news or journal entries. Our administrators will occasionally post on this page to help grow the community and keep you informed. Note, you need to “JOIN” the project to get the community updates.

We will also be inviting key members from specific countries or regions to help promote this Vetiver Systems project and to keep an eye on the "quality" of input. As the project expands, regional/country leaders can start creating their own project pages and then our global Vetiver Systems page will become an “umbrella” project.

Let us know if you have any questions by leaving a message for one of the project administrators. Enjoy!

Haiti -- Vetiver Latrine update by Roger Gietzen


In 2016 while doing community development work in a rural farming region in Haiti, I became aware of the serious sanitation problem.  Open defecation is the norm and diseases such as Cholera are active.  The locals suggested building a single community latrine for them, but I soon learned that wouldn’t work.  The traditional latrines are made from cement block which is not easily transported to a region like this, where there is no road access.  I learned from other organizations, that even if I could build one, it was not a real solution.  The “community latrine” is too far from most homes to actually get used regularly.  Plus since it is not owned by anyone, it is also not cared for by anyone.  In fact, in many communities the cement structure is so far superior to normal buildings that it is repurposed as a storage depot.

The real solution is to build household latrines.  But as a small nonprofit that is focused on regenerative agro-forestry, Global Freedom Project was not able to build a standard cement latrine for all of the families here, which the materials alone cost at least $250.  Luckily I discovered the work of Owen Lee, who a few years before me had encountered the same problem in Haiti and solved it by building the vetiver latrine.  After some back forth communication with him, I was able to get the idea of how to make this ultra inexpensive biological pit latrine myself.  The cost for materials alone, can be as low as $25!  If you want a detailed guidebook that explains how the latrine works and how to make your own, go this link and you’ll find it translated in multiple languages:

Over the course of 3 years I was able to train a team of skilled workers how to install these simple, yet effective “toilets” as they are called in Haiti.  We set a goal of making about 300 and succeeded.  Midway through this project, I reported an update here:, where I discuss some of the modifications the people made, so that the latrine was more acceptable.  I also talked about the biggest challenge I faced, which was a lack of recognition of the importance of the vetiver grass.  Some families pulled the grass slips out and planted ornamental plants.  Others removed them and build a privacy shelter.  In other cases, the kids trampled the grass beyond recognition.  In all cases, the biggest problem was that the families were unaware that this was potentially a major problem.

Vetiver grass serves multiple important purposes.  The roots stabilize the pit walls, so no concrete blocks are needed.  The roots also digest the waste and as leachate passes through them, it is cleaned.  The grass hedgerow that matures in the first year, makes a thick privacy wall that really does keep prying eyes away.  To help convey these important messages, I created an infographic in Haitian Creole that the installation team could use to educate families before they built the latrine.  That simple action solved the problem.  When families realized their latrine pit risked collapse without vetiver, they took efforts to protect it.

I have considered reviving this project, but have hesitated due to the lack of a clear goal for the next step.  Even with the first project there was supposed to be a defined community of about 300 families, but as we reached that predetermined number, I realized there was always another neighbor next door.  I felt that although the recipients loved their toilets, they didn’t appreciate the amount of efforts needed to make this a reality for them.  I wasn’t sure how to make this project more sustainable and ensure the recipients participated more.  Recently I got inspiration from another project that specializes in household water filters.  They have found that charging a small fee (the equivalent of about $5 USD) for their $100 filters, substantially improved how well the family cared for that item.  The chances that the filter, once paid for, was still operating years later were much higher.  I believe this would be true for the vetiver latrine as well.

Another change I am considering, is devising an elevated a precast cement toilet seat, which could be attached to the slab that covers the pit.  That was the most common modification made by families during the first project.  Some elderly people are not able to use the toilets without them because of bad knees.  The combination of paying a small amount for the latrine and adding an elevated seat would likely increase the longevity and popularity of the vetiver latrine. 

It is my wish that someday the people of these communities become more empowered and rise above their current challenges.  Maybe in this lifetime they can have access to running water at their homes and have flush toilets, in which case the vetiver latrine will become obsolete solution.  But in the meantime, it’s important to have an immediately available solution.  Diarrheal illnesses are active and the basics such as clean water, sanitation and healthy nutrition are the foundation for which further progress can be built on.  I am happy to have discovered an answer to at least one of these problems and hope that it becomes a more widely used form of sanitation in Haiti and elsewhere.

We constructed 365 "vetiver toilets" and had only two failures. The failures were due to the pits filling up with water before completion, before the vetiver had been planted and the concrete tops put in place.

Roger Gietzen January 2021


ICV7 Postponed

TVNI has been informed by the Chaipattana Foundation ­– the ICV7 organizer and host in Thailand -- that due to the COVID-19 pandemic ICV-7 will be postponed until 2021. The specific dates are, as yet, under consideration. They will be announced soon, as will the new deadlines for the King of Thailand Awards. We will post both the relevant links and the information, once it is available. As to the TVNI Awards, we shall also be modifying the deadlines for nominations and submissions once firm dates are available, but for your current planning purposes, the new deadlines will likely fall in 1st quarter 2021. Those of you who have submitted nominations will have until that date to provide further information, should you wish. As to those that have not made a submittal or nomination for one of the eight awards, we encourage you to do so. The importance of your doing so is first and foremost so that your good work is with the global network of “Vetiverians”. We hope and expect to see many of you at this important event in 2021! - Jim Smyle, President of TVNI

Vetiver Grass Technology - some random observations


Without soil and water there will be no photosynthesis and no life on this planet. Both are becoming degraded and in short supply globally -- Vetiver Grass Technology (VGT) can improve both and deserves government focus and support."

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: AMF have an important role in the growth of vetiver and we are seeing increased use of vetiver by permaculturists for all sorts of purposes including its planting within stands of other crops and sometimes very close to young plant seedlings such as papaya, mango, dragon fruit. etc with what appears to be positive growth benefits (linked possibly to moisture and AMF). This begs the question as to differentiating between vetiver cultivars on the basis of root architecture for this purpose and are some cultivars better at hosting AMF.

Leaf and stem density: Although the roots are important, particularly as a stand alone plant, the leaf and stem density as well as the total mass, play an important role when vetiver is used as a conservation barrier to trap sediment flow  to disperse concentrated water flows across and behind the vetiver barrier, and reduce flooding ... These same barriers have a use as a source of forage, thatch, mulch etc. High leaf density and mass in vetiver  generally is reflected in its tillering capacity and root mass. Deeper rooted plants also are better at recycling soil nutrients and better growth under dry conditions. We have noticed that once users understand the multiple benefits of vetiver they are more receptive to using the plant for soil conservation. Also deeper rooted plants can punch through soil pans and the impediments thus enabling ground water recharge (by as much as 4 times) from the spread out rainfall runoff temporarily trapped behind the barriers — reflecting a secondary but important benefit of vetiver barriers.

Root digging: We have in the past been concerned about the potential of vetiver hedgerows being dug for the oil.  In reality it is rarely a problem and we virtually never receive feedback that it occurs. Most vetiver that is planted for oil (VPO) is planted on lighter sandier deep soils that are easy to dig (often on flat land) - on the other hand most vetiver grown for soil conservation or slope stabilization is grown under conditions and soil types that make digging difficult and uneconomic. Where VPO is planted on sloping land and where the digging process can result in erosion, farmers need to incorporate permanent vetiver contour barriers to protect the VPO crop. This message needs to be passed on to these farmers (as is being done now in Haiti).  

Vetiver type for oil: My impression (and I stand to being corrected) is that from what I have seen in the field and from many photographs that have been posted on line is that the VPO types appear to be sturdier, bulkier, taller and more dense than some of the other types, and that the triploid/polyploids used for oil originating from south India would appear the sturdiest. Thus, as long as the plant is sterile why not use the VPO for environmental purposes. One big advantage of this would be that VPO producers  could become integrated with the "not for oil" vetiver users thus providing a secondary income for oil producers (very useful when there is an oversupply of oil and oil prices are low) and what should be a very low cost source of plant material for other users. (planting slips would be low cost as they would be a byproduct of VPO harvesting and the potential supply is very high).  Assuming we can discount the “digging” aspects as a problem then can we narrow the vetiver types to a few that are multipurpose includes quality oil, deep roots, good host to AMF, and sturdy and dense stems and leaves. 

Vetiver types generally:  Other aspects that are becoming important include (a) salt tolerance - especially for coastal stabilization (b) insect habitat and pest control - Chinese are now using vetiver as a dead end trap crop for rice stem borer control and as a habitat for beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps -- I wonder if there are any differences between vetiver types as to their attractiveness and “killing” of insects such as stem borers -- (c) fire tolerance - with increase in wild fires are there types of vetiver that are more resistant to fire, (d) decontamination of polluted soil and water, and (e) cold tolerance - increasing demand to use vetiver under very cold winter hot summer climatic regimes. The Chinese claim that have identified types that perform better and survive cold (freezing) conditions.
Barriers deterring the use of Vetiver Grass. (1) Some research shows that farmers need to be financially supported to undertake soil conservation works. - seems to work in the US in various forms but not in poor countries. Poor country conservation has generally come through World Food Program “food for work” programs and bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, or heavily subsidized  programs where there is no incentive for farmers to maintain their works and where there are huge opportunities for corruption by officials at all levels (2) engineered design based systems are generally preferred by “officials” - a bigger  budget line -  more room for corrupt practices and more control by involved officials. (3) biological systems are generally not preferred by engineers as most have not been trained in such aspects. They are also much lower costs and less opportunity for corrupt practices. (4) In most developing countries soil conservation is the responsibility of a “Soil Conservation Department” most of these are focused entirely on soil conservation and rarely consider the wider and secondary aspects that are derived from the primary work. Thus when introducing (perhaps reluctantly) a technology like Vetiver Grass the conservation agents  are either generally unaware of the many secondary benefits or do not tell the end user what those benefits may be. This all adds up to low adoption rates (5) In this age of "global environmental threat" primary and secondary schools should have a curricula that includes a compulsory class on basic environmental principles. — in other words some serious thought needs to be given to environmental education.

Research .  There are plenty of opportunities for vetiver research in many areas of application.  Vetiver research needs to be better coordinated. Such research should be multi-sector driven and not just the responsibility of the agricultural sector. Vetiver in its many applications could prove a very valuable a tool to mitigate many soil and water issues relating to climate change. A good case could be made to the World Bank and others to support such research

Policy: With 35 years of global research, development and experience to call on there is an opportunity for Government agencies to set out a clear policy directive on the use and development  of Vetiver Grass Technology (VGT) in all aspects. 
VGT is a proven success, is low cost, and applicable for a wide range of applications under a wide range of conditions. What more does one need!

Blog images

Useful gallery of all blog images (with captions) posted on Picassa


blog archive


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