Sunday, September 20, 2009

Vetiver: deeply rooted in Happiness

I just knew there was a reason that Vetiver--the plant itself, not even its myriad applications--makes me feel positively giddy with delight. Apparently my pleasure is well grounded, er, founded. This just in from our Indian friends Sathyanarayana Bhat, Ph.D, and Narayana Upadhyaya, from Aditi Organic Certifications Pvt. Ltd., in Bangalore:

Vetiver Systems for Rural livelihood and Prosperity

Usheera Grass

Indians have known Usheera or Lavancha for at least 5,000 years. Although this humble Indian grass travelled abroad just 25 years ago, people from more than 100 countries now teach us how to use it for applications from organic farming to tsunami prevention.

Ramayana stories teach that twins of Lord Rama, raised by sages, were named after two Natural beings. "Lava" is a type of small bird, and "kusha" is a grass. Fragrant-rooted Khus (from Kusha - Sanskrit)is Vetiver grass! Khus means joy and happiness. Thus Vetiver's aromatic root is considered to be not only useful in Vedic rituals but also as grass that brings happiness. As a matter of fact, Vetiver conserves our nature. It's a life-saving drug, and it is a panacea for all problems of Environment and Farming.

Vetiver has leaves that grow up to six feet and roots as deep as 30 feet! People often call it a living nail. Without exaggeration, this is a fact! Imagine the height of one coconut tree under the ground. This is the depth that this clump reaches underneath the ground! The soil binding and water holding capacity of your land is facilitated by planting Vetiver in your village or farming land. Even bulldozers cannot uproot its strong, deep root system. So this plant definitely can work as a “living nail” particularly in coastal areas, not only to prevent erosion during monsoon months, but also protect against dreaded tsunami currents! Many experiments using Vetiver to prevent landslides have confirmed that it keeps soil together without using cement.

Other uses of Vetiver plant:

Well-grown plants yield lot of leaf material, which is very good mulch.
Its tender leaves are wonderful fodder for livestock. It enriches the quality and increases the amount of milk.
The leaves are used for thatching roofs. Eco-friendly sheds and houses minimize the use of cement.
The grass blades are a good source of raw material for handicrafts and hand-made paper. Thus Vetiver is a good resource for rural employment.
The root system effectively rejuvenates soil, improving soil fertility. In the course of time, Vetiver will convert fallow lands to fertile lands.
Grown in contaminated or heavy metal water, Vetiver can definitely purify it. This is helpful when industrial sewage water flows onto fertile land.
The aromatic oil distilled from Vetiver root is very expensive, so it has good market potential.
Vetiver roots are considered very good Ayurvedic medicine. They are used in Human and Livestock medicine, curing hyperacidity, piles, bleeding disorders, skin diseases, and urinary tract problems.
Senegalese farmers have found that yield is increased when Vetiver is intercropped with horticultural crops. Farmer Tony Cisse says that augmenting fruit trees with Vetiver conserves water and facilitates the increased absorption of nutrients.
Vetiver withstands hostile climates and situations, and even grows in mine dumps, where it gradually improves the soil. It even grows in waterlogged and coastal areas.
Even if fire destroys the leaves, its roots can generate the shoot system.
Diluted Vetiver oil is a very good pesticide and termite repellent. It can also prevent many plant pathogens. A leaf concoction is also mildly fungicidal.
Vetiver leaves are very good raw material for vermi-composting.