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Thai treasures!

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

The Vetiver System, Africa and Soil Erosion

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I want to start 2011 with a blog for Africa.  Unless serious steps are taken to control soil erosion and conserve moisture in Africa the continent and its people face disaster in the long term.  Most of Africa does not have the water resources that India or China have for massive irrigation projects.  Most of Africa is relatively dry, has a hard rock geology and is therefore very dependent on rainfed/dryland farming.  The key question is how can Africa's rainfall be better harnessed and how can its ongoing fertility loss caused by high rural populations and continuous soil degradation be reduced.  Paul Kombo from Voi (adjacent to the famous Tsavo National Park - 500 mm annual rainfall) in Kenya sent me some photos from his farm in Kenya that has benefited significantly from the Vetiver System. Paul is Kenya's largest supplier of quality vetiver plants.  He is promoting the technology, particularly in the coastal region of Kenya

In Ethiopia farmers like Hassan Ali supported by non profit organization, SLUF, technical staff have used VS significantly - Hassan has sent two sons to University from the proceeds of vetiver enhanced crop yields.  Hassan has promoted the technology further to many of his neighboring farmers.  What started nearly 20 years ago with a few farmers in the remote province of Illubabor has spread wide and far in Ethiopia involving tens of thousands of farmers.  The private sector farmers, NGOs and some bilateral agencies such as GTZ have been the main promoters of the technology.

In Malawi there is a country wide vetiver program that was initiated by Glenn Allison who was manager of a European Union project.  Many farmers now use the technology. These are just a few examples, there are many more from Cameroon, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Senegal, Mali, and Madagascar. In every case, individuals who understood the technology and saw the need for it, were the people who got the technology moving.

In the Vetiver System we have a technology that has been proven under most conditions to significantly reduce soil erosion and improve rainfall conservation, increase crop yields and provide many additional benefits.  It is not the only solution, but it is a very good one that is quite easy to apply and is low cost.

It is time that the national governments pay more attention to vetiver - it can make a big difference to rural Africa.

dick Grimshaw


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