still on a learning curve. While tolerant of most soil types, Stevia is normally grown on
a sandy loam or loam. Stevia occurs naturally on soils of pH 4 to 5, but thrives with soil
pH as high as 7.5. However, Stevia does not tolerate saline soils. Normally there is no
pest or disease incidence reported in this crop. Harvesting starts after 3rd-4th month of
In India, Stevia cultivation is also looked upon as an opportunity to revitalise rural economies and tax incentives are being offered to take up cultivation. Bioved Research and Communication Centre (BRCC), UP, a centre which coordinates Stevia cultivation in the Northern State of Uttar Pradesh has reported that Indian climatic conditions suits Stevia cultivation due to ideal temperature conditions and the humidity ranging from 65-85 %. Scientific cultivation and careful selection of planting material can yield better returns in shorter times as compared to traditional crops according to Indian Stevia cultivators.Cultivation of stevia opens up new vistas for crop diversification and a viable
alternative to sugar cane in view of escalating cost of production due to extensive usage of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation requirements of sugarcane. Cultivation of stevia may be useful in the protection of environment, restoration of the health of soil, and revitalize the rural economy.
Since the 70’s, Stevia has been used in Japan as the main alternative to sugar instead
of the banned aspartame in diet soda, gum and other food and beverages. Stevia is
also used as a sweetener in other countries after extensive studies proved its safety.
Stevia has been used with success to treat many ailments including diabetes, high blood pressure, gingivitis, digestion ailments, and addictions, topically for acne and other skin ailments and also as a wonderful weight loss aid. Stevia provides several advantages over sugar and artificial sweeteners when used in food production, lower costs for transportation, storage/warehousing and handling charges:
In 2006, the World Health Organization evaluated Stevia and found no evidence of carcinogenicty in Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. It also reported that Stevioside
led to beneficial effects in patients with hypertension or with type-2 diabetes. The report concluded that further study was needed to determine proper dosage.
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