What is Vetiver?

Vetiver is a clump grass with sterile seeds and cannot become a weed

  • It is perennial and permanent and only grows where we plant it
  • It forms a dense, permanent hedge preventing soil loss from runoff
  • It has dense root system penetrating to at least 3 meters;
  • It grows in most soil types irrespective of nutrient status, pH, acid sulphate, salinity, etc
  • It should not compete with plants it is protecting
  • The type of Vetiver which is used for soil and water conservation in India, China, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, America and around the world is Vetiver Zizaniodes, spefically the South Indian genotype. Another genotype from North India is ineffective for soil and water conservation and can become a weed. See The Vetiver Network (International) website at


Why do we use Vetiver?

  • Vetiver grows fast
  • The roots can grow more than 3m into the ground. The leaves can grow 2-3cm per day.
  • It does not disturb other plants
  • Vetiver improves soil fertility and water quality
  • It can grow again after being burnt

Examples of Vetiver growth:



Indonesia has much underproductive due to difficult farming conditions on steep and arid terrain, rapidly varying contours, high elevations, torrential monsoon rains and high winds, creating two main problems for farmers:

  • Sloping upland areas cannot be farmed as there is no stable platform to control erosion for the cultivation needed to farm many high value crops and
  • The combination of the sloping land, no barriers preventing runoff, heavy rains and winds create extensive soil erosion, much ending up in oceans, lakes and rivers, giving a domino effect of degraded land and environmental damage.

Across the Indonesian archipelago, there are many landslides triggered every year, particularly with the rainy season following a dry spell. Several of these are serious with significant loss of life and damage to property and crops. Lack of financial resources leads to slow and sometimes no proper recovery, with both the landscape and people affected scarred permanently.

The Need for a Network:

Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides), which has been grown in Indonesia for around 100 years, was never promoted as a sustainable solution for these problems nor as a preventative measure to reduce landslides and mitigate erosion.

The East Bali Poverty Project (EBPP) has been promoting Vetiver in Indonesia since 2000, mainly as a key element of its holistic approach to poverty alleviation in Bali. It has also provided Vetiver and training to many new users since then.

However, there has not been a specific service in Indonesia to promote Vetiver, provide training and support to users, disseminate information and facilitate cooperation and the sharing of ideas, and Vetiver’s use in Indonesia remains limited. EBPP with the sponsorship of the Vetiver Network has set up IDVN to rectify this.

IDVN’s goals:

  • Disseminating clear and pertinent information on the benefits, properties and examples of Vetiver Systems (VS) to all relevant Indonesian organisations and individuals
  • Initiating and hosting vetiver conferences, workshops, on-site training and extension programmes
  • To advise and coordinate VS research, development and project application/implementation for network members;
  • To assist in the establishment of members’ vetiver nurseries and in marketing planting materials;
  • To support the implementations of the environmental programmes gonernmental and non-governmental organizations, village communities, schools and universities
  • Promote direct examples of Vetiver as a sustainable tool in poverty alleviation with direct examples of achievements on EBPP projects in Bali Island.



Turning previously arid slopes into fertile farmland

Stabilising road verges



Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) systems of conservation and stabilisation became one of the many indispensably necessary elements in EBPP’s comprehensive, holistic and integrated approach towards model sustainable social and economic development programmes for one of the most arid and impoverished regions in Indonesia.

The East Bali Poverty Project (EBPP) was established in 1998 in response to a plea for help from an isolated and impoverished community of 2,500 families in 15 villages on 5,000 hectares of inhospitable mountain slopes, denuded by Mount Agung’s massive 1963 volcanic eruption. Cassava and corn, all they could grow on the steep and sandy slopes, was their staple, contributing to endemic malnutrition, iodine deficiency disorders and high child mortality. 75% illiteracy, lack of access to health centres, government schools and markets compounded their problems.

Sustainable solutions for this isolated region started with integrated education programmes for children, requested by illiterate parents so that they could learn from their children and improve their future.

Starting the first community school in 1999 on vetiver stabilised community donated ‘waste-land’ on volcanic-sand, EBPP introduced vetiver as the most sustainable solution for rehabilitating 20km of dirt roads, giving first time vehicular access for 1,500 families and steep farmland to grow nutritious alternatives to cassava and corn crops to address the malnutrition problems.

Training events and workshops

IDVN hosts workshops and training events for those wishing to gain expertise on the use of Vetiver.

From the 29th May to 1st June 2006, the Indonesian Vetiver Network hosted its first Vetiver Training Workshop in Bali for 3 members of UK’s Tropical Forest Trust and 3 members of the Indonesian Government Forest rehabilitation Agency, PT Perum Perhutani, who will apply VS for forest rehabilitation and improved watershed management in East Java, Indonesia.

Training for poor communities:

IDVN also specialises in providing training to poor communities, which may have illiterate members. If you are working with such communities, we are able to help provide appropriate training in the use of Vetiver grass for preventing soil erosion on farmland or for handicrafts.

Training materials:
Training materials including instruction books, videos and CD-ROMS are available to aid new users of Vetiver.

Education Programmes for Schools
We are currently creating Vetiver education programmes for schools and universities.

If you would like to attend a training workshop or know more about them, please contact us.

Since 1999, over 500 EBPP school children in five schools have learnt how to stabilise terraces on steep mountain slopes for organic school vegetable gardens as well as all properties and benefits of vetiver, as part of their curriculum. Vetiver soon became the topic of choice in creative art classes, painting, handicrafts and roof thatching competitions.

After EBPP children and parents disseminated vetiver information throughout the whole village, hundreds of cassava farmers wanted to improve massive tracts of almost barren farmland, starting with vetiver stabilised terraces. Community organic vegetable ‘learning’ gardens followed, leading to individual kitchen gardens to provide family nutrition, combined with sustainable organic worm farms, seed-saving and rainwater harvesting for watering in the dry season.

Vetiver’s bio-engineering properties stabilising dirt roads, soon encouraged hundreds of steep-hillside farmers to protect their homes with vetiver, with the added advantage of beautifying their dry environments, as vetiver stays green in the dry season when all other vegetation has shrivelled and turned brown.

Ancestral remedies of remedial facial scrub have also been revived in many villages with vetiver roots as the base and “nice smell”.

EBPP’s vetiver team of previously uneducated youths from six villages are now training children, youths and farmers in other disadvantaged villages. By the end of 2005, vetiver has helped thousands of impoverished farmers in different regions of Indonesia to conserve soil and water, even on rice terraces, and, in combination with organic fertiliser and seed-saving knowledge, develop sustainable vegetable and cash crop faming and look to a future of self-reliant sustainable social and economic development.


Papers submitted by IDVN:

1. Vetiver Grass: A Key to Sustainable Development on Bali. (Submitted on The Third International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-3) in China, October 2003)

2. Vetiver Improving Lives of Impoverished Indonesian Subsistence Farming Mountain Community, Led by Children (Submitted on Regional Vetiver Conference in Vietnam, January 2006

3. Vetiver’s Role in Poverty Alleviation Propels Its Dissemination in Indonesia (Submitted on The Fourth International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-4) in Venezuella, October 2006)


We have been planting Vetiver for people’s stabilisation and water conservation and purification needs for years in many parts of Indonesia, including Aceh, Riau, Java, Lombok and Bali. We never only provide the grass, but ensure effectiveness and sustainability by providing maintenance training and follow-up visits and communication.

There is extensive technology that we have learnt and applied to solve erosion control and soil/water conservation for hundreds of new vetiver users in many different types of situations, including road verges, beach side erosion control, river banks, steep slopes, volcanic sand steep mountain slopes, etc.

Each different situation requires a different design to give a sustainable solution, some cases requiring only vetiver slips and more serious situations requiring mature vetiver plants that have been reared in polybags for 2-3 months and have a strong and established root system.

For the more critical situations, we use organic fertiliser at the time of planting which ensures more rapid growth.

All of our satisfied vetiver users have given information on their problems, usually digital photos, and prior to making any final design or commitment, we prefer to visit the location and make a detailed survey. Once this is complete, we provide a detailed proposal and plant the grass and/or give an example on site for one day and train the people who will be responsible for maintaining te grass for at least the first 2 months. Like any plant, vetiver must be correctly planted, watered and maintained until it has become fully established. Once it is growing, it is then permanent, becomes stronger and denser and requires no real maintenance.


1) 2003 First Prize Award from The Vetiver Network, USA for Outstanding Contribution to the Research and Development of the Vetiver System for Using Vetiver Systems as a Key to Sustainable Development in Bali

2) Certificate of Technical Excellence Class 1 from The Vetiver Network, USA for David John Booth MBE as Qualified and Proficient at Highest Highest Level (Class 1) in the Following Aspect of Vetiver System Application: Soil & Moisture Conservation and Bio-engineering and Extension

3) Certificate of Excellence for the King of Thailand Vetiver Awards 2006: for David Booth MBE, Nengah Ardika Adinata and Dr. Scott Younger OBE for the paper with title: “Vetiver’s Role in Poverty Alleviation Propels its Dissemination in Indonesia”


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