ESTATE CROPS NEWS – Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is a bushy shrub of the Asteraceae family, indigenous plant of Paraguay. Now the plants are cultivated in some countries of Asia, Europe and Canada. The Stevia leaves have stevioside and rebaudioside which are the major metabolites and these compounds have sweetness characteristic 250 to 300 times of sucrose in sugar cane.
As sweetener of foods and beverages, extracted leaves of Stevia has safety and functional properties for human health due to low calorie content, antioxidant, antibiotics, and non-carcinogenetic materials. In Indonesia, Stevia mifht be important to substitute sugar demand which has still been imported. The plant is now most cultivated in district of Tawangmangu, Central Java. The ropping area could be directed to areas with latitute of 700 m above sea level with annual precipitation of 1400 mm.
The constraints to extent the cropping area includes the difficulty of propagation for large scales of cultivation, bitter after taste of stevia, and low competitive of price product. Research focusing on efficiency of propagation techniques, identifying suitable cropping areas and technologies of post harvesting are important to support the spread out of stevia cropping in Indonesia.
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