Fort Valley State University Awarded Nearly $350k Grant for Bringing Stevia to American Soil

In *All, Agricultural Systems by Ag is America

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) program has issued a $345,406 grant to Fort Valley State University for leading the development of a sustainable stevia industry in the U.S. Leading the project is FVSU’s assistant professor of plant science, Dr. Bipul Biswas.

Stevia is a natural and healthy alternative sweetener, commonly produced in South America. Biswas’ goal is to find ways to encourage farmers to grow the plant locally to enhance their income and help establish an American stevia processing plant.

“We first want to see how stevia is performing in the field with different growing conditions, because farmers want to know when to plant, how to harvest, and how much irrigation is required, or if there are any problems with diseases,” Biswas said. “We will conduct field trials at FVSU’s Agricultural Research Station and on farmland where farmers are interested in growing stevia.”

Biswas also plans on hosting workshops for farmers and home growers on the nearly five acres of land available on the FVSU campus for these trials. Aside from using it for themselves and selling to companies, stevia farmers can also potentially use the crop to help treat ailments such as obesity, cancer, and high blood pressure.

“These are the main problems in our society, so stevia is the best candidate to choose to do research for our own benefit,” Biswas said.

For more information on his research and the benefits of stevia, read more here.

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