Stevia Cultivation

Stevia Farming

STEVIA (MadhuTulsi)

 (Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) HemsI.) Family –Asteraceae

Stevia is a subtropical perennial herb that produces sweet steviol glycosides in the leaves for which it is known as ‘MadhuTulsi’. The plant can be utilized as a source for the production of a natural zero calorie sweetener.

 Its medicinal uses include regulating blood sugar, prevent hypertension, and treatment of skin disorders and prevention of tooth decay. The compound obtained from stevia is considered to be the best alternate source for diabetes sufferer. The added value for this new crop can go up to a considerable extent.

Market potential

According to Global Industry Analysis, Artificial Sweeteners, July 2007 Report, International market for sugar free sweetener was of around USD 47.5 billion in 2007-08. Stevia market accounted for only USD 5.5 bn. Opportunity appears great. Statistics indicate that in some countries up to 30% of their needed sugar is replaced by stevioside.

Soil

Stevia prefers a well – drained fertile sandy loam or loam soil, high in organic matter with ample supply of water. It prefers acidic to neutral pH 6-7 for better growth. It requires a consistent supply of moisture, but not waterlogged. Too much soil moisture can cause rot.

Climate

 It is a semi – humid subtropical plant that shows higher leaf production under high light intensity and warm temperature. Day length is more critical. Long spring and summer day’s favors leaf growth. Short days trigger blossoming. Stevia prefers partial shade during considerable summer sunshine.

Propagation

 Stevia is usually propagated by cultivating saplings which are raised separately in a nursery.

Land Preparation

Land is either diced and / or harrowed twice to prepare a fairly smooth, firm – planting surface. Around 0.5MT of Organic manure/ acre have to be applied as a basal dressing during the last plough to incorporate the manure with soil. With proper drainage and irrigation channels the field is divided in to plots of convenient size.

 

Raised bed preparation

 Forming raised beds is the most economical way to grow Stevia. The raised bed should be of 15 cm in height and 60cm in width.

Planting

The quantity of plants per acre is 35,000 from February to mid-May gives better results. Immediate after planting one Irrigation is necessary. The concentration of stevioside in the leaves increase when the plants are grown under long day condition where vegetative period is longer and steviol glycoside yields will be higher.

Irrigation

It needs irrigation, as Stevia cannot stand drought .Micro sprinkler or Drip irrigation system is highly recommended and have been found to be advantageous since the herb is highly sensitive to water stress and requires frequent light irrigation. During summer, Irrigation at 3-5 days interval gives best results.

Mulching

In order to reduce the impact of drought and high temperature, addition of mulches around the plant is recommended.

Plant protection

No serious pest and diseases have been observed. Neem oil diluted in water may be sprayed against aphids if appear. Deer and rabbits are fond of Stevia due to sweet taste.

Harvesting

Time of harvesting depends on land type, variety and growing season. The first harvest of the crop can be had in four months after plantation and subsequent harvest once every 3 months. Short days induce flowering. Optimum yield (biomass) and stevioside quality and quantity is best obtained just before flowering. The easiest harvesting technique is to cut the branches off with pruning shears before stripping the leaves. The tips of the stem can be clipped off and added to harvest yield, as they contain as much Stevioside as do the leaves. On an average the commercial harvest can be obtained per year. It is better to cut the plants leaving about 10cm stem portion from the ground. This will facilitate new flushes to emerge, which can be harvested as the next crop.

Drying

 Immediately after harvest the herb is dried. This can be accomplished on a screen or net. The freshly harvested plants can be hung upside down and dried in shade. It can also be dried using simple drying racks inside transparent poly or transparent glass roofing or by passing dry air just above room temperature. Drying of the stem and soft green leaf material is completed immediately after harvesting utilizing a drying wagon or a kiln or done naturally in case of large scale production. Depending on weather conditions and density of loading, it generally takes 24 to 48 hours to dry Stevia at 400 to 500 C. The drying process does not require excessive heat; more important is good air circulation. On a moderately warm fall day, stevia can be quick dried in the full sun in about 12 hours. Longer drying times will lower the Stevioside content of the final product. A home dehydrator can also be used, although sun drying is the preferred method.

After adequate drying, the leaves are stripped of the stems/ twigs and packed and stored in cool, dry place. For large –scale commercial production artificial drying threshing of the dry herbs to separate leaves may be employed.

 Yield

 It gives on an average of about 2.5 to 3.50 tons of dried leaves per acre per year. Then decreases after the fifth year therefore it is advised to renew the cultivation after the fifth year.

Replacement and replanting

From the subsequent years some plants will die off duet to various reasons, these gaps should be immediately filled by well-developed seedlings .Depending upon the soil type and management the productivity will decline after 5 years and this should be replaced with new plantation.

 

                                         Trust Policy

 · Our trust shall undertake supply of planting material and shall impart complete knowledge of Stevia Cultivation to the growers.

· Our Agronomists shall visit farm on regular basis to check on the progress of cultivation.

· We shall also replace and replant saplings which may not survive in the first year.

· It has been observed that certain low cost saplings have a high rate of mortality / failure or they start bearing flowers within 2 months of planting .Care should be taken to choose the saplings whilst planting.

 · Our saplings are of High Yield Quality and we assure you of the economics figures that we have claimed. Moreover, we require the yield for our own production therefore we will guide you to take utmost care of your cultivation to achieve maximum mutual benefits

 

Economics of Stevia Farming

(All Figures in Indian Rupees)

Expenditure

1st Year

2nd Year

3rd Year

4th Year

5th Year

Total

Drip Irrigation

10,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

20,000

Saplings

1,05,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

1,05,000

Mulching

15,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

15,000

Labour Cost

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

50,000

Total Expense

1,40,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

1,80,000

 

 

After getting 40% subsidy from National Horticulture Board, expenditure will remain half.

Annual Gross Returns         

Yield of Leaves

0.8 Tons

(100/kg)

1.5 Tons

(110/kg)

2 Tons

(120/kg)

1.5 Tons

(125/kg)

1.5 Tons

(120/kg)

Total

Average Price  

80,000

1,65,000

2,40,000

1,87,000.50

1,80,000

8,45,000

 

 

Annual Savings (per acre)

 

1st Year

2nd Year

3rd Year

4th Year

5th year

Total

Income

80,000

1,65,000

2,40,000

1,80,000

1,80,000

8,45,000

Expenditure

1,40,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

1,80,000

Savings

-60,000

1,55,000

2,30,000

1,70,000

1,70,000

6,65,000

 

 

 

Earnings of 5 years per acre = INR 6,65,000 (Approximately 1,33,000 per acre per year)