A farmer's field in Malawi under conservation agriculture (CA), showing rotation of maize and groundnut (visible in adjacent plots) and the retention of crop residues. The farmer, Mr Chipeni, began employing CA practices seven years ago, and is still trying new things—“I just started the maize-groundnut rotation and I believe I’ll benefit,” he says. The biggest advantage of CA for him has been reduced erosion, and the gradual recuperation of his soil. One corner of his field was seriously gullied a number of years ago, and is now recovered and covered with a healthy crop growing on last year's residues. As village headman, he also helps train other members of the community in CA. In his village of Chipeni, Mvera Extension Planning Area, Dowa District, Malawi, 800 farmers have now adopted the practices. Conservation agriculture includes eliminating traditional ridge-and-furrow tillage systems, keeping crop residues on the soil, and rotating or intercropping maize with other crops. In addition to labor and cost savings, the improved soil structure resists erosion and increases water infiltration and retention, a huge benefit when drought threatens in places like Malawi, where maize subsists on rain alone. Photo credit: T. Samson/CIMMYT. For more, see CIMMYT's 2012 e-news story "Conservation agriculture in Malawi: 'We always have problems with rain here'," available online at: http://www.cimmyt.org/en/front-page-tems/aboutmediaresources/1308-conservation-agriculture-african-farmers-dodge-hunger-from-drought.

Vetiver, a fast-growing perennial grass, has been identified as a suitable crop for soil erosion and conservation in Pakistan.

Vetiver is known as “khus and magic plant” in Pakistan and has an unusual root structure that is extremely excellent in soil conservation and prevents soil erosion. The papery leaves can grow to a height of 1.5–2 meters and are hard and upright (5–6.5 feet).

Vetiver, a fast-growing perennial grass, has been identified as a suitable crop for soil erosion and conservation in Pakistan. Pakistan is an agricultural country where agriculture provides a significant percentage of the country’s income. However, the country’s agricultural sector is constantly threatened by erosion and deterioration due to population pressure.

The root system of the vetiver plant holds the soil firmly, keeping it from being washed away by rains or blown away by storms. Furthermore, the root system may absorb excess water and soil nutrients from deeper layers of soil with lower salt and alkalinity levels, thereby lowering the possibility of loss of soil fertility and waterlogging and helping in the improvement of water quality.

Vetiver is incredibly useful in areas where the soil is too salty for other crops to thrive or the pH of the soil is too high. Its resistance to tough soil conditions makes it a viable alternative for farmers searching for a long-term solution.

In addition, vetiver has significant medicinal and cosmetic significance in Pakistan. Its essential oil is in great demand on the global market due to its antibacterial capabilities and ability to deliver tranquil and therapeutic influences on the psychological and physical levels.

Vetiver oil is known for its calming and soothing effects on the mind and body. It is often used in aromatherapy to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Vetiver is believed to stimulate digestion and improve appetite. It can be used to treat digestive problems like constipation, bloating, and indigestion.

Vetiver has a unique, earthy scent that is often used in perfumes, colognes, and other fragrances. It can be used in skincare products like moisturizers, serums, and lotions to hydrate and nourish the skin. It also signals hair blooming and prevents hair fall. It can be used in hair care products like shampoos, conditioners, and hair oils.

Vetiver oil is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep. It can be diffused in a room or added to a bath to create a calming and soothing atmosphere.

Vetiver composition consists of dry matter, gross energy, crude protein, ether extracts, crude fiber, calcium, phosphorus, ash, lipid contents, and nitrogen-free contents, among other nutritional components. Plants with a high nutrient content make ideal animal feed.

Vetiver can be grown as a permanent pasture or as a component of a mixed pasture for grazing animals such as cows, sheep, and goats. It can be harvested and dried to make hay, which can be fed to livestock during periods when fresh pasture is not available. It can be chopped and ensiled to make silage, which is a fermented feed that can be used to supplement fresh pasture during periods when forage quality is low.

Finally, using imported seeds and roots of vetiver, various experiments are employed under different climatic conditions at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad to develop and release vetiver varieties that can adapt to Pakistan’s environment. It is accurate to state that vetiver has a promising future in Pakistan.

By Muhammad Majid Islam

I am an Agronomist At university of Agriculture Faisalabad. My field expertise are to enhance yield and promote major crops and alternative group of crops in Pakistan.