Conservation Markating:The Case of Vetiver Grass Technology (VGT) in Illu Aba Bora Zone

Tessema Chekun Awoke


Vetiver[1] Grass in Ethiopia, particularly in coffee growing areas, was known since 1960’s, but there are no evidences who and why it was introduced in the coffee farming system. Following the expansion of State owned Coffee Estates in the mid 1980’s; Vetiver was planted as weed barrier, especially to halt the expansion of Coach Grass into the coffee farms. Based on this role, vetiver was nomenclature in Amharic as Yeserdo Sar Mekelakeya (Coach Grass Barrier). Systematic efforts to develop Vetiver Grass Technology (VGT) for soil and water conservation were first initiated by the Ex- Ministry of Coffee and Tea Development (MCTD) in the South West Coffee Growing areas in the early 1990’s, taking cue from Thailand and Indian experiences. Vetiver Grass Technology was then extensively implemented as Hedgerows (Strips), as Inter-Bund Management and as Bund Stabilization across the coffee growing areas. Encouraging results were also recorded in halting soil erosion as well as in reducing water course pollution from wet coffee processing plants.  But Menscen fÜr Menschen (MfM) taking cue from the MCTD initiatives, extensively implemented Vetiver system in the ‘Illubabor Eco Development Program’.  From 1991 to 1998 more than 7,500 hectares of farmland were treated with VGT. And about 5,000 farmers participated in enhancing VGT based farming system.  VGT adapted well and protected the soil being eroded. And many NGOs taking clue from MfM popularized   VGT in there project areas. Vetiver Technology is now popular in all Regional States of Ethiopia. The effectiveness of VGT across the nation is therefore on the rise and will ultimately inherent the throne as the core strategy for erosion control. Surprisingly a new theory ‘Conservation Marketing’ (i.e. Vetiver Clump Sales) is emerging, which has already captured transactions.  In year 2013 alone, farmers of Metu Woreda, Illu Aba Bora Zone generated about 1.2 million Birr (65,000 USD) through conservation marketing. Farmers who have adopted VGT are harvesting  enough clamps and  generating net income on every treated farmland, while multiplication on their own nurseries offer them job opportunities and better income; raising their living standards.

Keywords: Vetiver, Yeserdo Mekelakeya, eco friendly, vitiver clump, conservation marketing

[1] Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) a native grass of India has been extensively used for land protection and an essential oil used in perfumery industry mainly in Southwest Asia. Vetiver with its deep-root system penetrates straight into the soil and spread like an underground barrier capable of filtering sediments and protecting the soil surface from runoff, but it is incapable of propagating itself by seed.


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