Despite having MBA degree from Thapar University, Patiala, city-based Harmanpreet Singh, 30, and Harry Garg, 29, have jointly taken up cultivation of ‘stevia’ plants on five acre farmland in Patiala.
With an ambition to do something different and could benefit society, the duo took up stevia cultivation 10 months ago.
The duo is grateful to their friends who study agriculture at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and told them about ‘stevia’ plant and how it can help diabetic patients.
“Leaves of stevia offer many health benefits. They act as natural sweetener which can be used instead of artificial sugar-free tablets, which in the long run are very harmful and can cause damage to intestines. Besides being natural sweetener, stevia kills obesity, also help in maintaining blood pressure and even nourish the skin,” the duo maintained.
They said despite many uses of stevia, very few farmers in the country cultivate as most of them are not aware of it.
“We are popularising this plant by informing about its uses to morning and evening walkers in the parks, visiting hospitals, campuses and other public places.”
On being asked how government can push its cultivation in the state, Singh said, “In several states where stevia is cultivated, the government offers 80% subsidy, whereas in Punjab, there is no subsidy.
“We have 35% subsidy on stevia in Punjab and that too has been offered by the central government and it is not enough to boost farmers to cultivate it. Secondly, agricultural universities of the country must make efforts to popularise it as its use can discourage use of many expensive medicines,” said Singh, while his counterpart Garg added, “Post sowing, this plant matures within three months and has a life span of five years. As plants do not attract any insects, there is no need to use insecticides and pesticides on it. It can be grown at homes too.”
“Natural cure is the best. Expensive medicines that doctors prescribe us or even artificial sweeteners that we use have many side effects. However, cultivation and use of stevia can be very fruitful for our health,” the duo added.