Malaysia-based PureCircle said it previously worked with farmers earlier this year to plant and harvest StarLeaf stevia in small trials in North Carolina and scaled up production after the pilot was successful.
“The trials this fall confirmed stevia grows well in soil and climate conditions that were conducive to growing tobacco,” it said.
It added that like tobacco, stevia grows best in a subtropical environment with adequate rainfall, minimal frost and a lot of sunshine.
Jackson Pillow, communications manager at PureCircle, said the partnership offered tobacco farmers a chance to increase their returns and productivity as tobacco demand declines.
“Stevia has been able to provide an important role in biodiversity because it requires little land and allows farmers to diversify their crops,” he said. “Our goal is to expand dramatically to major commercial production of stevia for next planting season.”
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