Vetiver Education and Empowerment Project (VEEP)
In the VEEP project, a total of 25,000 vetiver plants have been jointly installed on the properties of 15 community members with the input of all project participants for planning the placement of vetiver hedgerows on their lands, planting, and maintenance. For some community members, vetiver nurseries have also been established on their plots, which would provide a constant supply of vetiver plants to the community. These nursery plants can also be sold, thereby providing the community with a source of income.
A total of five (5) educational workshops were carried out to teach the many different uses and aspects of vetiver grass according to the ‘Vetiver System (VS)’. These include how to prepare, install and maintain vetiver projects; natural land rehabilitation methods such as- reduction in soil erosion using vetiver leaves as mulch and moisture and water conservation; and topsoil rebuilding through the capture of sediments which are normally lost due to erosion. Other valuable topics included the use of vetiver grass as a downstream treatment method for waste water in soak-away systems, discussions about less harmful herbicides and organic fertilizers, and the introduction to some other valuable tree species for their land rehabilitation benefits.
The project also included twelve (12) workshops where participants learnt how to make various handicrafts with vetiver grass. Such as using the leaves to weave baskets, belts, mats, and chairs; and the roots which are washed and dried to make other sweet smelling household items such as soaps, to freshen the home and keep away insects. The community can also sell these handicraft products to contribute to their sustainable livelihoods.
To date, the main planting and educational components of the project have been completed with all plants installed. Over the coming months, the maintenance period will continue on all the projects with continued sharing among project participants and the technical leads during establishment. A short video is also being produced to capture the learning, planting and growing process for the reintroduction of vetiver grass to Paramin, so that this project can be replicated in other communities.
VEEP has played an integral role in the local company Vetiver TT, as it was selected for the Swiss ReSource Award - which supports entrepreneurial solutions for resilience in water management. This is a valuable training and growth opportunity for the company which is helping now to promote VEEP locally, regionally and internationally as a project which can be replicated or inspire other similar projects.