Stevia Cultivation Project Report:
The following information is about Cultivation practices of Stevia and Stevia Cultivation Project Report.
Introduction To Stevia Cultivation:
Stevia Rebaudiana is a plant species which is considered to be a natural sweetener, is a native of the subtropical, tropical south and Central American regions. The leaves of this plant have been in use for about 1500 years. The local people of two regions in Brazil and Paraguay used the leaves as sweeteners for tea and medicines. This plant is a perennial herb which can attain a maximum height of 90 cm. The leaves of the plant are elliptic and the root system of the plant is extensive. There are 150 to 200 different species of this plant available around the world, but only 6 varieties i.e. Stevia Eupatoria, Stevia Ovata, Stevia Plummerae, Stevia Salicifollia, Stevia Serrata and Stevia Rebaundiana are used as sweeteners. The most widely used plant is the Stevia Rebaundiana because of its extraordinary sweetening properties. The leaves of this plant, when dried and processed, are considered to have 30 to 40 times sweeter than sugar but with zero calories. It is believed that the plants grown at higher latitudes contain a higher percentage of glycosides, the sweetening compounds. These leaves are sometimes known as calorie-free bio-sweeteners, which are non-fermentable, non-discoloring and anti-microbial in nature. They are stable to heat at 100˚C, pH and have a long shelf life. There are two varieties of Stevia crops (MDS – 13 and MDS – 14) which are exclusively suitable for cultivation in the regions with high temperatures and low rainfall. The other cultivable varieties are SRB -123, SRB -512 and SRB -128 with an average glucoside content in the range of 9% to 12%. There are certain advantages of the plant which make it a substitute for sugar such as:
- Natural product.
- The compound stevioside has no calories.
- The leaves of the plant can be used naturally.
- Extra sweetening property, so only a little quantity can be used.
- Can be used for cooking.
- No negative effect on health.
- Antimicrobial and stable.
Properties of the plant that make it cultivable:
- Adaptable to different climatic conditions.
- Perennial herb.
- The leaf is the part which is useful and economical.
- Propagates through plant parts, seeds etc.
- 3 to 4 harvests possible in a year.
- Facilitates intercropping.
Challenges during cultivation of Stevia:
- Herb is sensitive to day length, frost and waterlogging.
- Less resistant to drought.
- Initial growth is slow.
- Affected by weed in the initial stages of cropping.
- Seed germination is slow.
- The plant is less tolerant of high pH.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report – Advantages Of The Product From Stevia Cultivation:
The compound glycoside present in the leaves has significant impact upon consumption. The characteristics that make it a suitable substitute for sweetening are:
- Controls high blood pressure, obesity, and yeast infections.
- Safe for diabetic patients.
- Improves cardiovascular health.
- Free of calories, compounds cannot be metabolized by the human body.
- Helps in improved gastrointestinal activity.
- Provides proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates etc.
- Defensive against microbes.
- No toxic elements.
- No artificial agents.
- Provides 50 to 400 times more sweetness than normal table sugar.
- Prevents cavities and plague.
Major Uses Of Stevia:
- It is used as a natural sweetener in food items.
- It is used as a compound for weight loss.
- It is used as an antibacterial and anti-inflammation therapy.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Soil And Climate For Stevia Cultivation:
This plant adapts well to different climatic ranges around the world but exhibits higher leaf growth when cultivated in semi-humid temperature with good light intensity. The length of the day favors leaf growth. The plant can sustain within a rainfall range of 1500 to 1800 mm and a temperature of -6 to 46˚C. Well-drained soil with rich organic matter is most suitable for the Stevia plant. The soil should not retain water for long periods. Red and sandy loam soils with an optimum pH of 6 to 7 are considered best for Stevia CULTIVATION. The pH value of soil should not be higher than 8.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Land Preparation And Planting For Stevia Cultivation:
The land is made firm and smooth by ploughing it twice. The organic matter is supplied to the soil in the form of 50 tonnes/ha of Farm Yard Manure after the ploughing. The entire land is conveniently divided into plots using irrigation channels and drainage facilities for efficient management of the CULTIVATION practices. Raised beds are created for planting and it is considered as an economical way of cultivation stevia crops. The height of the raised bed is 15 cm. The space between each plant is 20 to 25 cm, whereas the row spacing is 40 to 60 cm. The seedlings of the Stevia plant are planted in pits and are covered completely with soil. Planting should be done during the rainy season. One hectare of land can accommodate 70,000 to 1, 00,000 plants of Stevia.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Propagation Technique In Stevia Cultivation:
The stem of Stevia plants is used for propagation because they root easily. While selecting the mother plant for stem cuttings, it is important to consider plant species which has high stevioside content and low bitterness because the sweetness of the produce depends on the variety of plant chosen. The top stems of the plant demonstrate more leaf growth and higher survival rates of 80.18% when compared to the middle stem regions during propagation. A stem from the top part of the plant with 3 nodes should be selected for propagation. It should be initially grown in a nursery until the seedling stage. Once the seedling stage is attained, then it is ready to be transplanted into the main CULTIVATION area. The stem can be planted either untreated or by treating it with 0.2% indole butyric acid (IBA). Under both conditions, the survival rate is unchanged.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Manure And Fertilizer Management In Stevia Cultivation:
Farmyard manure (FMY) @ 50 tonnes/ha is applied as a minimum requirement for CULTIVATION Stevia crops. Nitrogen @ 60 kg/ha, potassium @ 45 kg/ha and phosphorous @ 30 kg/ha are used as fertilizers. The entire nitrogen content is applied in three doses, one as a basal dressing and the remaining two after the cutting. To produce dry matter, nitrogen is required, but it should be released slowly into the soil. Compost can be added to the soil for extra nutrient supply. As the plant is basically cultivated for making medicines, organic CULTIVATION methods are most beneficial.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Irrigation Requirements In Stevia Cultivation:
This plant is intolerant to drought conditions, so shallow, frequent irrigation is required. Drooping of the tip of the leaf indicates the need for water supply. If there is no sufficient rainfall then irrigation facility has to be implemented at least once in a week. Irrigation through sprinklers is the best way to irrigate these plants. During summer irrigation is done 2 or 4 times in a day, whereas during winter or the rainy season water is sprinkled once in the day time.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Weed Control In Stevia Cultivation:
Manual removal of weed is practiced. Hoeing also should be done at regular intervals. These activities are easily carried out on the farm because of conveniently raised beds. Hoeing and weeding are done after 15 days of transplanting the seedling into the seed beds. And regular weeding is required every month. Every harvest is followed by the hoeing process. Plastic sheets or plant residues are used for mulching the farmland to control the growth of weeds.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Diseases And Pest Control In Stevia Cultivation:
- Leaf spot – can be controlled by spraying borax @ 6%.
- Cutworms and caterpillars – controlled by spraying quinalphos or deltamethrin @ 2 ml mixed in 1 liter of water.
- Leaf blight – bavistin and dithane M-45 are sprayed alternatively @ 2 ml mixed in 1 liter of water.
- Root rot – controlled by drenching the soil with bavistin @ 2 g/l of water.
- Septoria is controlled by providing controlled irrigation facilities.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Harvesting In Stevia Cultivation:
Before harvesting the crops, pinching is practiced to facilitate new bushy growth of the leaves. The breaking of stems due to high winds is also prevented by pinching the leaves. The bud and a pair of leaves are removed by cutting with sharp instruments for three weeks during the first month of growth. 4 months after planting the crops, harvesting can be done. During the budding stage, the quality of the compounds in the leaf is high and yield is good. The quantity of glycoside compound decreases after the flowering of the crops. 5 cm of the branch is removed during harvesting. One plantation cycle can produce 3 commercial harvests. Each harvest cycle should be done with a gap of 3 to 4 months.
Stevia Cultivation Project Report- Post-harvesting Techniques In Stevia Cultivation:
The post harvesting requirements of the leaves are drying and extraction of the required compounds. The moisture content in the fresh leaves of Stevia is high and if they are not dried the quality of the leaf decreases. The leaves of Stevia are sun-dried for 12 hours. Other drying methods like artificial drying by passing hot air can also be used. Using hot air dryers at a temperature of 50˚C for 6 hours is considered the best method to dry the leaves of Stevia because it preserves the quality (color, sweetness, and nutrition) of the leaves. The moisture content of the dried leaves should be in between 3 to 5% and should not exceed 12%. Also, care should be taken not to dry the leaves for a longer period of time otherwise the quality of the compounds present in the leaves decreases. ‘Threshing’ is a process of removing the leaves from the stem and is generally done after drying the leaves. Leaves are packed into airtight containers and stored in a cool dry area. The packaging of the leaves can also be done in plastic lined cardboard boxes.
Extraction: the process of extraction of stevioside from the leaves is similar to the process followed in sugar extraction at sugar mills which involves conventional processing and long purification methods. The categories involved in processing are solvent extraction, ion exchange purification, precipitation, filtration, crystallization and finally drying. The process of extraction is done after dissolving the leaves in hot water or alcohol to remove the oil, lipids, chlorophyll and other contaminants. Some non – polar solvents can also be used for this process such as chloroform, ethanol, and methanol. The compound that is obtained after the extraction process is termed as ‘Rebaudioside-A’. This compound is then precipitated using alkaline solutions and is again dissolved in methanol for crystallization. The isolation of steviol glycosides can be performed by using ultra and nano-filtration membrane as these are considered to be inexpensive and Eco-friendly methods. Commercial processing of the Stevia leaves can be found in Japan and China on a large scale.
Yield From Stevia Cultivation:
According to different researches and observations, it is estimated that one hectare of land can produce 21,500 kg of fresh leaves or 6000 kg of dried Stevia leaves. 10% stevioside compound can be extracted from the dried leaves of Stevia. The leaf production from the Stevia cultivation is hugely obtained in the 3rd or 4th year of planting.
Product Safety Details Of Stevia:
As the products obtained from the Stevia plants are used as alternate sources of sugar, the standards and safety levels of this product have to be certified. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India have declared that steviol glycoside can be used as a non-calorific sweetener in processed food items. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) also consider it to be safe with a certain Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) dose.
Economics Of Stevia Cultivation:
The investment details for Stevia Cultivation has been mentioned here as an approximate data. The true values or prices may change depending on the location of the farm and the materials being used. The following data can be used for cultivation of Stevia in 1 acre of land.
|Materials Required For Stevia Cultivation
|Investment In Year 1 (In Rs)
|Investment Year 2 (In Rs)
|Preparing the land and seed beds
|20,000 Seedlings @ Rs 8/seedling and sowing
|Supervising the irrigation
|Processing the leaves
The cost of Stevia leaves per kg: Rs 100.00 (average price of the product).
The total amount of dry leaves of Stevia produced annually for 1 acre of land: 2700 kg.
The net annual income from Stevia CULTIVATION: Rs 2, 70,000.00.
During the 1st year, the profit earned by Stevia CULTIVATION is: (Rs 2, 70,000.00 – Rs 2, 19,500.00)
In the 2nd and the subsequent years the profits earned are: (Rs 2, 70,000.00 – Rs 16,000.00)
There could be a possibility of transport and other hidden charges and also if they are being cultivated organically then there could be technical expert charges involved. The final dry leaf product from the Stevia CULTIVATION may differ in cost depending on the brand, quality, demand and the location of the product.
Loans And Subsidies For Stevia Cultivation:
The Hahnemann Charitable Mission Society (HCMS) is an NGO which extends financial and material support to the farmers for Stevia CULTIVATION. It is located in Jaipur, India.
The government in association with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is offering loans and subsidies for Stevia CULTIVATION based on the project reports.
The National Medicinal Plant Board and AYUSH are together offering a subsidy of 30% (maximum amount of Rs 30 lakhs) on the total cost of cultivation of Stevia crops.
Loans And Subsidies For Stevia Cultivation:
Organic Innovation is an organization in Assam, India, which provides materials for Stevia cultivation on a 100% cash back agreement and also provides free training for the cultivation of Stevia crops.
Bhagya Shree Herbal Farms, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India are a consultancy which offers consulting services, training and assistance for CULTIVATION needs to farmers for Stevia cultivation.
National Medicinal Plant Board, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India is also providing training and capacity building programmes for the development and cultivation of medicinal plants.