STAFF REPORT RWP: Agricultural experts have successfully cultivated stevia (sugar) plant in 12 districts of Punjab, which will lead to its cultivation on commercial basis.

Stevia Project Director Hafiz M Akram stated this while speaking at the Stevia Kissan Mela at a forest training school in Murree.

Akram said the experimental phase of stevia plant had been successfully completed in 12 districts of Punjab and now they were planning for its commercialisation.

“Stevia is a complete and natural substitute of sugar,” he said. “It is 15 times sweeter than sugar and its extracts are 300 times sweeter than sugar.”

Ayub Agriculture Research Institute (AARI) Director Agronomy Abdul Sattar, PARB Executive Member Makhdoom Abdul Jabbar, Agricultural Information Assistant Director Rawalpindi Babar Latif Baloch and a large number of farmers were present on the occasion.

Stevia leaves were examined by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research at its laboratory and 30% protein and 53 per cent carbohydrates along with other nutrients were found.

Agricultural experts explained that farmers could earn a net profit of Rs470,000 per acre annually from stevia cultivation at the commercial level. The speakers stressed that stevia cultivation was becoming the need of the hour to meet sugar demand from a growing population. South Korean and Malaysian companies had expressed interest in stevia cultivation, processing, packaging and exports, they said.

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