Local purple potato drink launched

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A locally produced beverage made from purple potatoes grown in the hinterland regions was Thursday morning launched at the opening of the inaugural Green Expo at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara.

Made with the same ingredients used in the famous “piwari” and “fly” indigenous drinks, this new juice is named ‘Sak’ – a native word used by the Makushi and Patamona tribes to describe its primary component – the purple potatoes.

It is being produced and packaged by the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST), an industrial research organisation in Guyana.

The Makushis and Patamonas have known for thousands of years that these special sweet potatoes contain important functional ingredients responsible for promoting cardiac and circulatory health, regulation of blood pressure, improvement of sexual function, and the reduction of stress and inflammation, IAST noted.

It has been used by those tribes for generations and now, utilising this knowledge, the IAST in collaboration with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs (MOIPA) developed this beverage which will be marketed under the ‘Kaieteur Nutraceuticals’ brand.

The potatoes used in the production process are being harvested from the Rupununi Savannahs in Region 9 and the high valleys of the Pakarima Mountains in Region 8. It is then produced and bottled in 10oz plastic containers by the IAST.

The beverage is jam-packed with antioxidants, magnesium and vitamins A, C & E and has a calorie count per serving of just 140.

Professor Suresh Narine (left) and Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock

Professor Suresh Narine, Director of the IAST, explained that the idea was conceptualised some two years ago when he and the Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock ventured into the hinterland.

Minister Allicock had informed him of the many uses of “fly” – which is popularly used as an alcoholic beverage.

“So we started researching it and were astounded that right there in our highlands was this remarkable product languishing,” Professor Narine stated.

He noted that the beverage has many health benefits, and is often given to indigenous women after childbirth to help them rebuild their strength.

Minister Allicock, in brief remarks, lauded the initiative to introduce this indigenous innovation to the rest of the country and urged that similar projects be embarked upon.

“This is what we would like to see being developed in our hinterland regions,” he stated.

All of the profits generated from the sale of Sak will go back into the communities, Professor Narine noted.

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