International Vetiver Workshop Held in Fuzhou of China
Supported by The World Bank (Small Grants), The Vetiver Network (international), Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Academia Sinica), Fujian Provincial Water and Soil Conservation Committee, Fujian Provincial Water and Soil Conservation Station, The Institute of Soil Science (Academia Sinica), and China Vetiver Network, The Vetiver Workshop was held successfully in Fuzhou of China, on 20-26 October 1997. As more and more foreign experts expected to participate in the workshop, the title of the workshop was changed from original China Vetiver Workshop into International Vetiver Workshop which was approved officially by the National Science Committee of China.
More than 90 domestic participants attended the workshop. They come from Fujian, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong, Hainan, Guizhou, Yunnan, and many other provinces mostly from southern China. The participants involve in many institutions and various disciplines, such as agriculture, forestry, environment, botany, soil and water conservation, geography, livestock, ecology, etc. Some come from extension stations and others from research institutions, universities, and government offices. Therefore, the workshop played an important role on the establishment of bridging a gap between research scientists and extension workers.
Foreign experts coming from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. also participated in the workshop. Just before the initiation of the workshop, the organizing committee still received many applications from both home and abroad who expected to participate in the workshop. It indicates that more and more people and institutions are getting interests in vetiver technology.
Corespondents from newspapers and TV stations were also attended the workshop. Their programs created interests in wide audience. More people knew that vetiver is a magic grass for soil conservation and for environment protection.
The workshop included various programs such as plenary presentations, discussions, posters, exhibitions of publications and vetiver products, and multiple field visit. There were 28 papers presented at the workshop, including 7 papers presented by foreign experts. These papers reflected the recent development of vetiver research and development. As time was too short for the workshop to arrange such plenty of colorful programs, the participant had to use free time at noon and in the evening as well to continue their group discussion, video and computer performance which showed participants the vetiver development in the world and vetiver information service by means of computer.
In the workshop, The Collection Papers on Vetiver Research and Development (in Chinese), the Workshop Abstract (in English), Vetiver Newsletters (3 issues in Chinese and 1 issue in English), Vetiver for Soil Conservation the fact sheets (4 issues in Chinese), and Agroforestry Today Vol. 5, No. 2 and 3 (in Chinese) in which vetiver grass composed an important component in some agroforestry systems. From these publications we can see that many scientists and development workers are actively involving in the vetiver technology.
In the workshop, vetiver publications from both China and foreign countries were exhibited. Posters introducing multiple research subjects and different uses of the grass were put on display.
During the mid-tour, the participants visited large demonstrations in Pingtan Island. The island has been frequently attacked by Typhoon, heavy rain and sand storm. Historically, some villages were buried by wind-blown sands. Farmers there used to use rocks and other weeds to protect their farmland, homegardens, and houses as well against wind disaster. Since scientists introduced vetiver to the island just few years ago, the vetiver grass was widely spreaded in the island and voluntarily accepted by more and more farmers. They planted vetiver grass to protect river bank which was used to protected by expensive rocks and frequently destroyed by extremely strong wind. The river is called as life-keeping river as in the island the fresh water is very valuable to farmers livelihood. Farmers had to clear their river each year, even the banks were protected by rocks. After vetiver grass was introduced, farmers no longer to clear the silts. In addition they can use the grass to feed goat. The demonstration showed that the vetiver grass can be planted very easily and can grow quickly. The only point during the planting is that the roots of the grass should be dipped in clay paste just before planting so that the survival can be guaranteed.
The second large demonstration site is a fishery pond whose dikes were frequently destroyed by sea wave. Several old farmers visited the demonstration site along the river not long ago and then decided to plant vetiver grass around their fishery pond. They planted the vetiver grass voluntarily. The only support from outside society is limited planting materials. After that the farmers propagate the grass themselves. At the sand area just beside the sea, the grass grew very quickly. They can grow well although there was a little damage by heavy wind and strong sea wave which frequently attack this area. A dense fence can formed in several monthes. It indicated that the grass is tolerant to wind, salty sea water, and infertile soils.
The third demonstration area in Pingtan island visited by participants was to use vetiver grass to form a net system of wind-break in order to protect crops from damage. The present crop was hohoba, a high quality old extracted from the seeds can be produced. The farmers also planted vetiver to protect their vegetable plots. In the field, a free discussion was held between farmers, county chiefs, and participants. Through the field investigation, participants found that vetiver was very suitable for coast sandy area where wind is strong and often forms a threaten to crops and farmers life. In addition, many Chinese participants realized that in China there is a large area of barren sandy land around rivers and lakes, the Poyang Lake for example, where vetiver can survive and grow well and can be used as a pioneer plant for land rehabilitation.
During the post-survey, the participants visited a demonstration area in Jianyang county of northern Fujian province. In the past decade, following national economic reform, highways at different levels have been developed very rapidly through out the country. For example, in Fujian Province 4,000 km of highways were established during the period of 1992 - 1996. The construction of highways plays an important role in promoting rural economic development, but at the same time causes environmental problem. In Fujian Province, for example, the highways were usually constructed on the deeply weathered granite, from few meters to several dozens of meters deep, and were subject to soil erosion and collapse, leading to damaged highways and new soil erosion along the highways. To protect highways engineers had to use rocks and concrete to protect critical sections of the road beds. There are 2.6 million sq. meters of road embankment slopes that need to be protected in Fujian Province. However due to financial constraints, there is only a very small percentage of the slopes protected. Therefore, to find a new measure, both effective and economical, is an urgent task for highway construction and protection. Many examples showed that vetiver has a strong fibrous root system that penetrates and binds the earth to a depth of up to 3 m and can withstand the effects of tunneling and cracking. The grass is more effective ( than hard wood roots) in the mechanism of root reinforcement on soil slopes, as clearly demonstrated on extremely unstable and massive highway embankments and cuts in Malaysia as presented by Mr Diti Hengchaovanich during the workshop. In the demonstration site, the vetiver grass was planted with two models, i.e., contour aligned vetiver hedges and square mesh planting which combines vertical and horizontal hedges like a honeycomb. After few month's growth, it seems that the latter worked more efficiently. The demonstration site showed that the vetiver grass can protect the highway from collapsing and at the same time protected the paddy field from silt deposit efficiently. The demonstration was wecomed by farmers and accepted and will be supported by local highway authority.
The common concern on vetiver is the profit. Whether vetiver can generate profit formed one of the key issues during the workshop. Trials showed that vetiver can not only be used to control soil erosion in order to maintain soil fertility and then to increase crop yield for 30% as presented by Mr Lu Shengluan during the workshop, but also can be used to feed animals, used as farmers cottage roof materials, and to produce art and craft products. During the workshop, the vetiver products from both China and Thailand were exhibited. These products can be sold directly in the market and can create considerable profit for farmers.
In addition, the application of using vetiver to produce edible fungis consisted of a hot topic and generated strong interesting among the participants. During the workshop, the basic method of using vetiver to produce edible fungis were introduced. Besides, participants took free time to visit Fujian Agricultural University to see the edible fungi production bases just before the presentation in the afternoon on 23 October. The whole procedures were shown to the participants, including the vetiver cultivation, the harvesting, the processing of the vetiver cuts, and the cultivation of edible fungi. It is very clear that using vetiver grass to produce multiple fungis has many advantages: (1) Traditionally the edible fungis were cultivated using woods, which aggravated the degraded environment, while using grass to produce fungis can solve this problem. Because the component of the grass is the leaves and stems above the ground, the roots and the remaining stems can still control soil erosion. (2) The pruning and using of vetiver grass can promote the tillering of the grass and therefore to strengthen the function for soil erosion control. (3) It is shown that the production efficiency of using grass to produce edible fungis was much higher than that of woods. For example 1 kg dry grass materials can produce 1 kg fresh edible fungi which was 10-20% higher than using woods. (4) Studies showed that the production period of using grass was much shorter than that of using woods. Although the edible fungis can also be produced from other grasses, vetiver grass became one of the best candidates because vetiver can grow almost every places where other plants can hardly survive, and also vetiver is tolerate to pruning.
The organizing committee received more than 20 proposals or concept paper before the workshop. The topics included vetiver for soil erosion control and commercial tree protection, vetiver for sandy dune stabilization and fuel production in Poyang Lake area, vetiver for water eutrophication control in Taihu Lake, etc. Therefore the future application of vetiver grass formed a worth component of the workshop. In the afternoon 23 October, several proposals or concept papers were presented and discussed during the workshop. The topics included the use of vetiver for soil erosion control, highway and railway protection, watershed management, deposit control for rivers and reservoirs, vetiver plantation for farmland ecology improvement and mushroom cultivation, etc.
Additionally, in the evening of 23 October 1997, a group discussion was held on the further consideration of vetiver technology in southern China. The participants proposed suggestions and comments on future application of vetiver technology. Many new users expressed their interests in the utilization of the grass in their homeland or their research area, while old users are going to start new trials on highway and railway stabilization, extreme soil rehabilitation, etc. They hope that the China Vetiver Network could do more in dissemination of vetiver technology and the coordination and initiation of various programs. They strongly suggested that the proceedings could be published as soon as possible so that more people could share the experiences and suggested that regional meetings and visit be organized in the near future.
Through the discussion between Institute of Soil Science and Mr Diti Hengchaovanich Chief Executive Officer, Erocon Sdn Bhd from Malaysia, a company was planned to be launched in China aiming at transfer the technology of using vetiver to protect highways into southern China.
To sum up, the workshop presented results and achievement of vetiver research, experiments, application, and extension in the past decade; discussed new vetiver applications and its management of extreme soil rehabilitation (seriously eroded red soil, mobile sandy dunes, toxic soils, etc.), watershed management, waterway stabilization, earth works reinforcing, pollution control, disaster prevention, etc.; proposed new application of the grass to satisfy farmers' basic needs (fuel production for example) and profit generation. The workshop bridged the gap between scientists and extension workers and between vetiver users and government officers and policy makers.
Vetiver Research and Development: ABSTRACT
Edited by Xu Liyu and Charles (Todd) Chirko the publication titled Vetiver Research And Development was printed and distributed during the Vetiver Workshop held in Fuzhou of China on 21-26 October 1997. The workshop was organized by China Vetiver Network and supported or sponsored by The World Bank (Small Grants), The Vetiver Network (international), Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Academia Sinica), Fujian Provincial Water and Soil Conservation Committee, Fujian Provincial Water and Soil Conservation Station, and The Institute of Soil Science (Academia Sinica). The ABSTRACT was selected, translated, and edited based on the contributions just before the workshop. It includes five parts: part 1. General Introduction; part 2. Adaptability and Utilization; part 3. Ecological Effect and Erosion Prevention; part 4. Introduction, Planting, and Perspective; part 5. Planned Program.
The ABSTRACT contains 56 abstracts with 90 pages. Limited free copies are available for national and regional networks by surface mail. For airmail, please send a check for US$20 for each copy to: Liyu Xu, China Vetiver Network, ISSAS, P.O.Box 821, Nanjing 210008, China.