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Vetiver has done its job! 14 years later stable slopes, clean road drains, and now mainly native species

Vetiver System supports Ethiopian farmers

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In 1996 the Vetiver Network provided a grant to a German NGO (Munchen fur Munchen (MFM)) to develop a vetiver program for soil and water conservation in the Mettu area of Iluubabor Province of Ethiopia (Illubabor Province is located in western Ethiopia. rainfall about 1000mm, altitude 1000 - 1500m a.s.l. The initial program was successful and Debela Dinka Guda now working with environmental NGOs sent me the following information on the past 13 years of progress:



  1. According to our partner NGO in Illubabor, Ethio-Wetlands and Natural Resource Association (EWNRA), vetiver technology is more or less being used in 17 of 22 districts in Illubabor. It is estimated that about 17,000 households are using vetiver. It is expected that the remaining 5 districts will be involved.
  2. The major impacts of vetiver are: decreased rate of soil erosion; increased crop (maize sorghum, vegetables) yield due to SWC; reduced siltation of wetlands and streams; groundwater recharge which subsequently improved flow of springs, streams and wetlands; survival rate of tree and coffee seedlings reached more than 80%. Other uses of vetiver: mulching in coffee plantations; thatching of houses, stores and shades (vetiver grass gives long time service); mattress making (it replels home fleas and other insects); homestead hedgerows for beautification; making rope; income generation (farmers sell vetiver clumps for planting materials); and the green leaves of vetiver are cut and spread in and around homes during holidays and social gatherings such as wedding ceremonies.
  3. MfM once tried roadside stabilization in one of its project areas in Illubabor. However, it has not been extended. I also remember that the Ethiopian Highway Authority had made a study to use vetiver for roadside stabilization. But I haven't seen them using it. I will try to check what is going there.
  4. The Ethiopian Government is encouraging farmers and the private sector to harvest rain water using ponds. This means, there is a great potential to use vetiver for pond stabilization.
  5. Donors such as the World Bank should encourage the Ethiopian Government to use vetiver technology for SWC other non agricultural purposes. The technology is already working in Ethiopia. It is a matter of giving it a proper attention  further promote it through the existing extension system of the country. 



The above is good news for Africa and is one of many reports that we receive from the field. After MfM completed a three year vetiver program the expansion into other parts of Illubabor was all carried out by Ethiopian organizations with minimal resources. It would be possible to repeat and expand this type of VS introduction in most countries of Africa.


Dick Grimshaw

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