Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, September 5, 2011

The World Council of Credit Unions supports small farmers to produce stevia, a natural sugar substitute

Credit unions in Kenya have introduced financing for a new cash crop well-suited for production in small farm plots characteristic of rural poor farmers in Kenya. Recent years have seen the reduction of demand for tea as younger generations consume more soft drinks and less tea. Small farmers who used to harvest tea have found it harder to support their families by selling the tea leaves. Finlay Tea introduced new crops that could be grown on small plots of land by poor farmers in western Kenya. The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) introduced, with Ndege Chai SACCO Ltd a Medium size Society based in Kericho, financing for small farmers to produce stevia, a natural sugar substitute.
The majority of poor people in Kenya are still in the rural areas; small landholders are producing for subsistence and trying to find a crop to sell for additional household income. Stevia has a strong demand. It is also simple; the poorest and least trained farmers can produce it sustainably and profitably on their small landholdings. The challenge is reaching the scale that the market offers to these farmers. The largest purchasers on the worldwide sugar market are soft drink producers, such as Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola. Consequently, they are also the largest interested purchasers of stevia. But to respond to their demand requires the delivery of very large amounts of the crop. Stevia has also an aftertaste similar to artificial sweeteners (even though it is all-natural). So you may need to get used to this. When combined with real sugar, the aftertaste is minimized.

Antimicrobial Activity of Stevia Rebaudian. Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin,  Benin City, Nigeria

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