Sunday, 3 February 2013
06:23 Grace Wanene 1 comment
Growing stevia in
Kenya is a good backyard gardening activity for every household. This is a perfect way to reduce the household budget
of sugar, as the sweetener is 30 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia herbal sugar
offers sweetness minus the unhealthy effects and the sweetener is calorie free.
The leaves can be used directly in tea fresh or dried. The natural leaves can
also be cooked and eaten as vegetables. Stevia herbal sweetener is said to be
good for all people including diabetics.
Stevia herb is native of
in South America which performs well locally. Growing
Stevia in Kenya
was given approval just two years ago by the National Environment Management
Authority. Stevia sweetener as an
ingredient was approved by US Food and Drug Administration in 2008. Stevia herb
is also nutritious and has been found to contain vitamins A and C as well as
protein iron, calcium, zinc, fibre, potassium and sodium. Stevia herb
contains 10-12 per cent stevioside, which can be extracted as liquid
concentrate for use directly in soft drinks, beverages and in the manufacture
of chewing gums.
Growing stevia in
Kenya is a promising activity as
the market may shoot up due increased demand for natural foods. Growing stevia
starts by planting on a raised bed at a spacing of 30cm from row to row and 20cm
from plant to plant. Manure is applied at a rate of 20kg per square metre. Stevia
herbal sweetener is harvested 3 months after planting, after which the crop is
dried and ground into powder for use as a sweetener. Alternatively juice can be
extracted and used in a similar way. Growing stevia in Kenya is likely
to become a major economic activity in the near future as more people embrace it.