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Vetiver powers agriculture

Young Haitian helping his community through the Vetiver System

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gilbert Belneau is a Haitian and comes from and lives in the village of Cazal – which is in the Cabaret area of the Artibonite region of Northern Haiti. For the past year he has been helping his community with land related erosion problems and has learned to use the Vetiver System. In the photo on the left is an example of a gully that he hopes to fix with vetiver.  Below is one of his early plantings across an eroding road fill - looks well planted.  Gilbert and others like him will, if supported properly and encouraged are the hope of the future in restoring Haiti's denuded lands and improving its agriculture.

In the past there have been many consultants (expensive ones!) who have visited Haiti who claimed that erosion was a natural phenomenon and since it was very expensive to solve, bilateral agencies, NGOs and government should focus on income earning activities even if they were not sustainable. I am sure that there are many Haitians who realize that reafforestation has been mainly a wasted effort and must be really upset  once they learn that a technology such as the Vetiver System is the first and very necessary step if reafforestation is ever to be successful.  If I was a Haitian I would feel tricked by NGOs, government projects and donors into planting trees, spending billions of dollars on useless reforestation that has had no visible impact over the last 30 yrs, and yet no reforestation project ever mentioned their Vetiver was good for soil erosion.

This phenomena is not just confined to Haiti.  I have seen the same in many developing tropical countries where Forestry and engineer controlled Soil Conservation Departments have  deliberately rejected and ignored the Vetiver System because it was not what they were trained in and often not on their agenda.  Some of the multilateral development agencies have been just as blinkered and ignorant (no wonder, they hire the wrong staff and consultants to deal with these pressing and very difficult issues!)

Dick Grimshaw


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