Once you are seduced by vetiver’s ability to restore sloping lands, there is little relief until you get hold of a stock and plant it. But there are several important aspects to consider along the way: where to find it, how to transport it, how to care for it and when and how to plant it. The experience narrated here could be of use to you.
This post must begin with a note of thanks for P Haridas of Kanan Devan Hills Plantations [KDHP], Munnar, Kerala. He is a keen promoter of vetiver use, has demonstrated its bio-engineering and cost saving potential at KDHP and is an active member of the international Vetiver Network. He took my many frequent phone calls, gave me patient and clear advise and guided me throughout the period till planting at pointReturn.
KDHP was willing to supply tillers for planting. But I chose a source closer to Chennai at Nilambur. They quoted a price of Rs 1.60 per tiller at the farm. Transport was extra and my responsibility. And that took some organising. Vetiver is a hardy traveller and can survive on the road for up to 15 days. Heavy rains in Kerala ruled out a roat trip to pick up the 4,000 plus i was hoping to buy. I couldn’t find anyone in Chennai, willing or capable of travelling to Nilambur and bring the consignment over by train. Trains stops briefly at Shoranur and it would have needed a local man to organise things.
I remembered K A Thomas, who trained for the merchant navy with me. His wife Laila was from Nilambur. Could she help me out? The good soul sprang to help instantly. Mr Pious, a plantation worker in her brother’s estate was willing for a fee. So it was all arranged.
I met Pious at midnight at the Chennai Central Station on September 11. He had neatly packed the stuff in a sturdy cardboard box about the size of a 4 foot high refrigerator. The tillers were safe but must have been suffocating for about 14 hours. By the time I went to bed it was 1.30 am, the vetiver still in the box in the car. Early next morning I raced to my farm about 20 km outside Chennai and we tore into the box to give the tillers some air.