Cultivate sugar substitute in Bangladesh
It is estimated that more than 15 million people in Bangladesh have been diagnosed as diabetic patients so far and a significant portion of population have not been identified but are suffering from diabetes. White cane sugar, white beet sugar, corn syrup, honey, molasses, pancake syrup and brown sugar are simply prohibited for diabetic patients. Like many other people these patients with the medical condition of diabetes also crave for something sweet in their diet. Dr. Stefan Ripich and Jim Healthy have jointly authored a book titled The 30-day Diabetes Cure Featuring the Diabetes Healing Diet. Stevia Rebaudiana is a plant native to South and Central America, where it is commonly known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf or simply stevia. Stevia extract is 300 times sweeter than table sugar, yet they have zero calories. Because Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose level, it is an ideal natural sweetener to use in moderation as we begin to control our carb cravings. Stevia is also recommended for people being treated for obesity and high blood pressure. Stevia is widely used in Japan as a sugar substitute. In Bangladesh, it is possible to grow Stevia and make a variety of sweet dishes with Stevia extract instead of sugar. Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation in collaboration with Department of Agriculture Extension can import Stevia plants from South and Central America and motivate farmers to grow Stevia for diabetic patients. Priority may be given to the farmers who have started to grow herbal medicine plants in recent years. Stevia will be a big relief for diabetic patients with a sweet tooth and those who are prone to diabetes. Since a large proportion of the country’s population is diabetic, authorities should seriously consider producing sugar substitutes locally. I would like to urge BADC and DAE to introduce Stevia cultivation throughout rural Bangladesh.
Md. Ashraf Hossain
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