Virtues of vetiver

Once established [-three good rainy months are enough for that], vetiver is pretty indestructible and requires little maintenance. Cattle and goats may browse tender shoots but that cannot kill the plant. Fire does not kill the plant either as the deep root system gets in touch with water and revives the plant.
Shoots get woody and inedible as the plant matures. The stiff blades are good material for basketry, mat weaving and handicrafts. Chopped into tiny pieces, it can be mixed with other cattle feeds. It is advisable to keep the hedge trimmed to a height of about three feet. This promotes [-as does browsing by cattle] proliferation of fresh shoots and densification of the hedge. Trimmings can be used as mulch. Roots of the plant are of long strands and make for good roofing thatch.
Vetiver produces copious volume of roots from which a valuable aromatic oil produced. Historically India has been the home of this oil, produced by time tested technology.
The living plant has other claims to fame. It is said to deter rodents, termites, mosquitoes and snakes. Since its roots are very deep, it does not compete with surface feeding crops of a farmer. He can in fact grow these as a sturdy fence.
Vetiver is said to produce almost 90 tonnes of biomass per acre per year with little cost of water. And that is tempting technologists, now using sugarcane and corn to produce ethanol -an alternate fuel for IC engines- to look at vetiver. Will vetiver emerge as a biofuel feed-stock? Maybe, since America’s emerging fascination with switch grass is leading to research and technologies that could well be applied vetiver.
But it is nicer and wiser to promote a non-corporate enthusiasm for vetiver. If instead, farmers grow these primarily as fences and bunds to retain water and nutrients, vetiver can secondarily serve as cattle-feed, thatch and as material for utilitarian handicrafts. And then, if there are enough farmers in a local geography growing it and having enough trimmings and root surpluses, -then and only then- perhaps local cooperative enterprises can make biofuel for use in tractors and vans. Along that way vetiver oil can bring in additional income.
That is the path pointReturn will travel on.

Scientific terms for vetiver

One thought on “Virtues of vetiver

  1. Amazing article. I hope our farmers learn about Vetiver and its impportance and use it. This might actually save lives of some farmers who commit suicide trying to escape famine.

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