Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - First crop of stevia is successful: company

First crop of stevia is successful: company

First crop of stevia is successful: company

Stevia Nutra Corporation, a Canadian agro-company, said in a press release on Friday that the initial growing season of stevia, commonly known as sweetleaf, in Cambodia was successfully completed.

The first harvest of high-quality stevia leaves has now commenced and samples have been prepared for testing to determine its sweetness, a key determinant to the commercial viability of a stevia crop, the statement said.

Stevia is used as a natural low-calorie sweetener and sugar substitute, having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. Stevia Nutra Corp had acquired 20 hectares of prime agricultural land in Kampong Speu province, according to a company statement in June 2012, adding that it plans to expand to 2,000 hectares, if the test results are positive.

Stevia Nutra’s chief agronomist, Ahmed El Sheikh, said in the statement: “The ideal growing conditions here in Cambodia combined with our choice of seed variety and rigorous agronomy protocols have proven to be very effective. The stevia plants are thriving with better than expected growth, and we are optimistic that initial leaf testing will yield positive results.”

Leaf samples have been sent to the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and will decide about the crop’s potential in Cambodia.

“Matching climate, soils, nutrients and cultivation practices with a robust and productive seed variety is a challenging exercise, and our team [with local partner Ecologica Co Ltd] has delivered,” Stevia Nutra Corp’s President, Brian Dicks, noted, adding that Kampong Speu had proved to be an excellent site.

While stevia had been widely used for decades as a sweetener in Japan, health concerns and political controversies have limited its availability in some countries such as those in the European Union. However, since 2011 stevia has been approved for use in the EU.

The World Health Organization estimates that stevia would make up about 20 per cent of the global sweetener market, valued today at over $10 billion, by 2015.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all