Sweet Potato & Cassava Bread for sale
Having a Vertiver Grass nursery practically next door at Mercer’s Creek made it very convenient for the Gilbert Agricultural Rural Development Centre (GARDC). The second phase of the GARDC/Eco-system Based Adaptation (EBA) Project was training workshops and having easy access to the main commodity was very helpful. According to June Jackson (Executive Director of GARDC), These workshops were one on soap making while the other was a handicraft training on making jewelry, coasters, baskets and mats making. The participants were entrepreneurs and other interested persons who could use the grass to create a livelihood for themselves. “We want to extend our gratitude to our donors, who we would have received grant funding from through IICA Antigua office under the CBF-EBA project. We are quite pleased that we could have partnered with them (IICA) to develop a nursery”, Jackson said.
Documented evidence has shown numerous benefits and uses of this plant, and through these sessions some of these were recently locally proven. Interestingly, there are uses for the entire plant, from the foliage to the roots of this plant contains many good properties conducive for agricultural, decorative and medicinal purposes. One of the ingredients in the soap making process was the roots and its leaf which can also be used for exfoliation. Some soaps were made and packaged nicely into gift packages for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and for other special occasions.
Ms. Jackson further indicated at GARDC there will be more happening in the near future pertaining to the Vertiver Grass and this project. Additionally, she encourages the general public to visit GARDC website for more information on other related activities.
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.