By Sinead Kelly
Some 600,000 stevia plants are to be sown in Cyprus over an area of around 70-90 hectares through contract farming, the Cypriot-based company Eurostevia Cyprus announced on Wednesday.
The plant, the leaves of which are used to make an increasingly popular natural low-calorie sweetener, is part of the sunflower family and grows well in tropical regions
Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose it is attractive to people on low-carb diets. It has been widely used in Japan as an alternative to sugar for decades.
However in the US it was banned in the early 1990s unless labeled as a dietary supplement, but in 2008 it became approved as a food additive. It was approved for use in the EU in 2011.
Eurostevia has an agreement with Stevia Rebaudiana of Sunfruits Ltd from India whose owner and CEO Shivraj Bhosle, visited Cyprus last week along with the director of Eurostevia Greece Nicos Papas.
Talks were held with representatives of Eurostevia Cyprus on a draft plan to plant in Cyprus. In a meeting with senior officers of the ministry of agriculture Eurostevia Cyprus presented details for specific projects and explained the advantages of cultivating stevia on the island in terms of its export value and in providing income to Cypriot farmers.
Five contracts are to be offered to interested farmers or investors who would sell back to Eurostevia at an agreed price.
Expertise and guidance would also be offered to the farmers. Greek farmers have already begun cultivating.
Initially 600,000 Stevia plants would be sown in various areas.
Those interested in participating in should contact 99548859/99418048 or by emailing [email protected] (www.eurostevia.eu, www.sunfruit.biz).