Kenyan stevia farmers to benefit from trade deal with China

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Fresh Stevia leaves/File/Zeleno
Fresh Stevia leaves/File/Zeleno

Kenya and China have signed a protocol on the requirements needed for the export of stevia to the Asian country.

The protocol, signed in the Chinese capital Beijing on Monday, lists the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of the exporting the natural sweetener, which is in huge demand in the Chinese market.

Stevia is a sweetener extracted from a plant species known as Stevia rebaudiana, and is used as an alternative to sugar for health reasons and also for the benefit of people suffering from diabetes.

Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Trade, Dr. Chris Kiptoo, led a Kenyan delegation in signing the protocol with the Chinese government.

According to a statement issued by Kenya’s Trade Ministry, the agreement was signed after a comprehensive risk analysis carried out by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and the General Administration of Customs in China.

China has become Kenya’s largest trading partner, accounting for 17 percent of Kenya’s annual trade worth about Sh400B.

At the just concluded China International Import Expo in Shanghai, China, Kenya announced it will also be exporting other food, plant and animal products.

The stevia plant is known in Kenya as Sweet Leaf or Sugar Leaf. It is grown largely in the Western and Southwestern parts of the country, as upland areas and sub-tropical climate are favourable to the crop.

Tens of thousands of tonnes of stevia are produced by Kenyan farmers every month.