Vertiver Grass – one year into the Project

Our current drought situation here on our twin island state has also had some negative effects on the Vertiver Grass.  The Vertiver Grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) also to some is locally known as “Khus” is very versatile and has many uses – agricultural, decorative and medicinal.  Related to the lemongrass, citronella and paimarosa, the Vertiver is very adaptive and grown in all types of soils.  Research shows that this plant is non-invasive or crop-encroaching.  Further studies showed that this plant is very effective in soil erosion, conserve moisture, protect crops and to some extent control pollution.

Therefore, possessing all these qualities made the Vertiver an excellent selection for the reforestation of the section of the Cook’s Landfill and the neighboring mangrove swamp.  Planting started in October and was completed in December 2021 on an area of three thousand feet by eight feet with three rows of Vertiver strips.  It was hopeful that this patch would act as a filtration system for the toxic chemicals from the landfill leaching into the Hanson’s Bay Flashes.   Unfortunately, the growth of the plant has become stunted due to the severe drought conditions in May and June both the lack of rainfall and the scarcity or reliable distribution of portable water to the area has become a significant constraint and concern on this particular project activity.

Here on Antigua, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs (MAFBA), and the National Solid Waste Management Authorities (NSWMA) are spearheading the Vetiver Project which has several components.   The project is funded though the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) and is currently being implemented in other Caribbean countries such as St. Lucia, Dominica and Tobago.