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Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion (1993)

Chapter: The BOSTID Innovation Program

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Suggested Citation:"The BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1993. Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2077.
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The BOSTID Innovation Program

Since its inception in 1970, BOSTID has had a small project to evaluate innovations that could help the Third World. Formerly known as the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation (ACTI), this small program has been identifying unconventional developments in science and technology that might help solve specific developing-country problems. In a sense, it acts as an "innovation scout"—providing information on options that should be tested or incorporated into activities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

So far, the BOSTID innovation program has published about 40 reports, covering, among other things, underexploited crops, trees, and animal resources, as well as energy production and use. Each book is produced by a committee of scientists and technologists (including both skeptics and proponents), with scores (often hundreds) of researchers contributing their knowledge and recommendations through correspondence and meetings.

These reports are aimed at providing reliable and balanced information, much of it not readily available elsewhere and some of it never before recorded. In its two decades of existence, this program has distributed approximately 350,000 copies of its reports. Among other things, it has introduced to the world grossly neglected plant species such as jojoba, guayule, leucaena, mangium, amaranth, and the winged bean.

BOSTID's innovation books, although often quite detailed, are designed to be easy to read and understand. They are produced in an attractive, eye-catching format, their text and language carefully crafted to reach a readership that is uninitiated in the given field. In addition, most are illustrated in a way that helps readers deduce their message from the pictures and captions, and most have brief, carefully selected bibliographies, as well as lists of research contacts that lead readers to further information.

By and large, these books aim to catalyze actions within the Third World, but they usually are useful in the United States, Europe, Japan, and other industrialized nations as well.

To date, the BOSTID innovation project on underexploited Third World resources (Noel Vietmeyer, director and scientific editor) has produced the following reports.

Ferrocement: Applications in Developing Countries (1973). 104 pp.

Mosquito Control: Perspectives for Developing Countries (1973). 76 pp.

Some Prospects for Aquatic Weed Management in Guyana (1974). 52 pp.

Suggested Citation:"The BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1993. Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2077.
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Roofing in Developing Countries: Research for New Technologies (1974). 84 pp.

An International Centre for Manatee Research (1974). 38 pp.

More Water for Arid Lands (1974). 165 pp.

Products from Jojoba (1975). 38 pp.

Underexploited Tropical Plants (1975). 199 pp.

The Winged Bean (1975). 51 pp.

Natural Products for Sri Lanka's Future (1975). 53 pp.

Making Aquatic Weeds Useful (1976). 183 pp.

Guayule: An Alternative Source of Natural Rubber (1976). 92 pp.

Aquatic Weed Management: Some Prospects for the Sudan (1976). 57 pp.

Ferrocement: A Versatile Construction Material (1976). 106 pp.

More Water for Arid Lands (French edition, 1977). 164 pp.

Leucaena: Promising Forage and Tree Crop for the Tropics (1977). 123 pp.

Natural Products for Trinidad and the Caribbean (1979). 50 pp.

Tropical Legumes (1979). 342 pp.

Firewood Crops: Shrub and Tree Species for Energy Production (volume 1, 1980). 249 pp.

Water Buffalo: New Prospects for an Underutilized Animal (1981). 126 pp.

Sowing Forests from the Air (1981). 71 pp.

Producer Gas: Another Fuel for Motor Transport (1983). 109 pp.

Producer Gas Bibliography (1983). 50 pp.

The Winged Bean: A High-Protein Crop for the Humid Tropics (1981). 58 pp.

Mangium and Other Fast-Growing Acacias (1983). 72 pp.

Calliandra: A Versatile Tree for the Humid Tropics (1983). 60 pp.

Butterfly Farming in Papua New Guinea (1983). 42 pp.

Crocodiles as a Resource for the Tropics (1983). 69 pp.

Little-Known Asian Animals With Promising Economic Future (1983). 145 pp.

Casuarinas: Nitrogen-Fixing Trees for Adverse Sites (1983). 128 pp.

Amaranth: Modern Prospects for an Ancient Crop (1983). 90 pp.

Leucaena: Promising Forage and Tree Crop (Second edition, 1984). 110 pp.

Jojoba: A New Crop for Arid Lands (1985). 112 pp.

Quality-Protein Maize (1988). 112 pp.

Triticale: A Promising Addition to the World's Cereal Grains (1989). 113 pp.

Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation (1989), 427 pp.

Suggested Citation:"The BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1993. Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2077.
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Microlivestock: Little-Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future (1991). 468 pp.

Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems (1992). 151 pp.

Vetiver: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion (1992).

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 1—Grains (1992).

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 2—Cultivated Fruits (1992).

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 3—Wild Fruits (1992).

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 4—Vegetables (In preparation)

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 5—Legumes (In preparation)

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 6—Roots and Tubers (In preparation)

Foods of the Future: Tropical Fruits (In preparation)

Foods of the Future: Tropical Fruits to Help the World (In preparation)

Suggested Citation:"The BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1993. Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2077.
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Page 158
Suggested Citation:"The BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1993. Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2077.
×
Page 159
Suggested Citation:"The BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1993. Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2077.
×
Page 160
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Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion Get This Book
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For developing nations, soil erosion is among the most chronic environmental and economic burdens. Vast amounts of topsoil are washed or blown away from arable land only to accumulate in rivers, reservoirs, harbors, and estuaries, thereby creating a double disaster: a vital resource disappears from where it is desperately needed and is deposited where it is equally unwanted.

Despite much rhetoric and effort, little has been done to overcome this problem. Vetiver, a little-known tropical grass, offers one practical and inexpensive way to control erosion on a huge scale in both humid and semi-arid regions. Hedges of this deeply rooted species catch and hold back sediments while the stiff foliage acts as a filter that also slows runoff and keeps moisture on site.

This book assesses vetiver's promise and limitations and identifies places where this grass can be deployed without undue environmental risk.

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