Stevia Paraguay is one of the biggest producers of Stevia Rebaudiana (Ka'a He' ê) in South America. Stevia Paraguay is the founder of the Paraguayan Chamber of Stevia, and a member of the European Stevia Association with base in Belgium.

With more than 11 years of experience, Stevia Paraguay has won the confidence and support of its clients through high quality products, a first class service, and competitive prices.

Stevia Paraguay has now officially opened its office in the United Kingdom in order to better serve its European customer base.

 
 
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Growing Ka'a He'e (Stevia) for Paraguayans presents a great opportunity of assuring good economic returns without having to stop sowing other products.

Producing Ka'a He'ë (Stevia) is a solution to cover necessities due to there being an assured market. The sale of all the production is guaranteed and at a very profitable price. The growing of Ka'a He'ë (Stevia) has practically no economic risk when it is looked after, and in the measure of higher dry leaf production, their sale value increases, therefore the economic perspectives are guaranteed.

The investment for growing Ka'a He'ë (Stevia) does not entail big expenditures, only the permanent dedication of the farmer.

Ka'a He'ë (Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni) is a bush that originated in the Northeast of the Oriental region of Paraguay and consists of a branched stalk with multiple sprouts that can reach between 40 and 80 cms. in height.

 


• Water
The plant originated in a semi-humid area, with a yearly average rainfall of 1500 millimetres. It has very little resistance to draught. In areas where the yearly rainfall is between 1500 / 1700 millimetres and with soils capable of retaining high humidity, as is the case in the Provinces of Itapúa, Alto Paraná, Amambay, San Pedro and Caaguazú, small farmers can omit artificial irrigation.


The plant is resistant to humidity but not to draught as this harms the appearance of leaves. This would mean that investing in artificial irrigation would be highly profitable.

Therefore, it is recommended to produce with irrigation to obtain higher profits.

• Temperature

The Ka'a He'ë (Stevia) is quite resistant to low temperatures, although the growth is less vigorous during the winter season when compared to the others. The ideal temperature for the germinating of seeds is 20º C. In high temperatures one will observe that the plants are sensible to heat, producing screwing in end sprouts of the main leaves, but reviving as the heat diminishes.


The cycle of the plant is approximately 90 days, that is to say 3 months, and one must respect this rigorously in order to obtain a rational production, otherwise one will end up having a chain reaction with the loss of the following cycles:

The first cycle starts in September.
The second cycle in January.
The third in April.
The fourth in June.
There is a 15 to 22 days maximum lapse during which one must cut (harvest) and start the new cycle.

• September: the most important cycle is that which starts in spring and finishes in December and gives the main harvest of leaves (40%), as already mentioned this cut can extend to 15 January, maximum the 22, and in this cycle it is recommended not to harvest seeds.

• January: The cycle that commences during this month is also important for the production of leaves (35%) as well as seeds.

• April: The thrid cycle company credit check commences during this month, the winter growth, the production of leaves is only 15% but can produce very good quality germinating seeds.

• June: A true winter cycle. 10% of the production in leaves and good quality seeds to place in nurseries during spring, but plants can be produced out of season.


The growing of Ka'a He'ê (Stevia) with normal cuts, and respecting their cycle of development, is always green since after 8 days the new sprouting commences, presenting some exceptions in the mother plants that is product from seeds.

The addition of organic material or natural fertilisers must be adapted rigorously to the plant's developing cycle; the fertilising is justified only in the cycles of greatest production: September and January.

The pulverising of the crop with fungicides and fertilisers must be undertaken without failure and only once after each cut, that is to say four times a year.

In the plantations in which the vegetative cycle has not been complied with the organic, will not produce the desired results as the plants were trimmed during their growth after by-passing their correct cutting stage.

That is the reason for the appearance of small sprouts with flowers, that is to say at the end of their cycle.

To obtain the best results for any treatment of the plants these must be started during the development of the cycle or plant growth, and not at any other time.


1. When wishing to produce seedlings one must consider the recommended period for transplanting which is from April to August and part of September.

2. The seedlings in the nursery take about two months in summer and three months in winter. This clearly shows us that in order to assure that the seedlings are ready for the year one has to sow the seeds during the months of May and part of June. Beyond this period the seedlings will be for the next year which will entail an extra high cost of production.

3. Preparation of the soil must be started at least two or three months before May, which is the ideal sowing period.

This undertaking must include deep ploughing, herbicide treatment, the incorporation of organic material and chemical fertilisers as well as the disinfecting of the ground and finally plenty of prepared organic material that will form a layer of five or more centimetres above the surface. This is in order to assure a rapid development of the germinating seedlings.

If this is not so the finished seeds will not reach the ideal size for transplanting.

When preparing the nursery once must eradicate all herbs and the fertilising becomes necessary for if it is not done the production costs will rise.



The transplanting of seedlings will necessarily need a disinfecting with fungicides.
Preferably the transplanting should be undertaken after a rainfall.

The place or trough in which the seedling is to be placed will need previous irrigation. The roots must be carefully placed and covered with earth and pressed firmly in order that the roots be firmly attached to the earth.

The method of planting can be in simple rows, at a distance of 50 centimetres between each row and 20 centimetres between each plant, this will produce a density of 100.000 plants per hectare.



In order to obtain good quality dry leaves one must take into consideration the factors that may affect the quality of the product and the availability of the following minimum necessary elements:

I- Drying Element

1. 70% Half Shade Mesh
One must have available a half mesh shade of 20 to 25 metres with a wooden stick or bamboo at each end in order to ease its handling.

2. Cleaning Tent
One should have a tent of at least 3 x 3 metres in which to separate the leaves, the stalks and black leaves as well as for the final drying.

3. Leaf Bags
The dry leaves must be placed in sacks and kept in dry and well-aired sheds.

II- Facts to be considered

1. Dew
Cutting must be done after the evaporation of the dew.

2. Time of cutting
Cutting must be undertaken only in the morning hours - up to 10 or 11 a.m. This will allow, in the best of cases, in completing the drying out in the same day.

3. Volume of cuttings
The amount of cut branches must not be greater than the disposability of drying meshes.
One must not pile up the branches higher than 10 centimetres in thickness. As we are using numerous varieties at the same time, their maturing will not be even and one may do the cutting by selecting the plants about to flower, which will allow for more cuts thus easing the drying and manipulation of the leaves.

4. The Sun Heat
This is very good for the drying process, but one must learn to use it. In the days of excessive heat the cut branches must be laid out for airing which is accomplished in approximately two (2) hours or less exposition. Then they are taken to the shade and later can again be put out to dry in the sun.

5. Rain - Showers
The cut branches must not be exposed to rain or showers as this will cause immediate oxidisation of the leaves.

6. Clear Nights
The cut branches must not be left out during the night because dew and clear skies will oxidise the leaves.

7. Ideal time for cutting
The ideal time for cutting is when the first flower buttons make an appearance because that shows when the plant has finished its development, the leaves are mature and it is also the moment for the highest crystal content (Stevioside).

Complying with these recommendations will allow the farmer to obtain high quality dry leaves with a good market price since the product for human consumption is presented in natural form.

The average production of dry leaves per year without risks is that of 1.500 kilos per hectare. With irrigation systems one can obtain per year between 3.000 and 5.000 kilos per hectare.

 

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