A ‘new’ locally produced beverage, made from purple sweet potatoes grown in the hinterland regions, took centre stage as the Green Guyana Expo kicked off at the Guyana National Stadium yesterday.
Called ‘Sak’, the beverage, produced by the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST), has as its main ingredient, the purple sweet potatoes used by Guyana’s indigenous peoples to make the popular ‘fly’ beverage.
“This product has been used by the Makushis and Patamonas for a very long time. Some of you may know it as ‘fly’ but is made from purple sweet potatoes,” Dr Suresh Narine, the Director of IAST, told members of the media and patrons who gathered to view the official launching of the beverage at the Expo yesterday.
He related that the idea to create the product came after he took a trip to the hinterland where Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock explained to him that ‘fly’ is not just an alcoholic beverage but has many other nutritional values.
Narine said that the purple sweet potatoes contains nutrients that regulate blood pressure, promote cardiac health, and increase circulation. “The indigenous people have known this for a long time and not only is this product great for males and females 40-70 (years old), it’s excellent for children as well because it promotes brain development, heart health, healthy nails, skin and hair. So what we’re delivering in ten ounces is a beverage that has functional food properties,” he said.
According to Narine, the beverage will be distributed to select stores and they hope
to have them fully out on the market by Christmas. He added that all the profits from the products sold goes back to the farmers in the hinterland regions.
Apart from Allicock, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan was also present at the launch.
A number of other locally produced products were on display at the three-day Expo which is being held under the theme, “Sustainable Economic growth through small business innovation, entrepreneurship and transformative government policies”.
About 130 exhibitors are showcasing locally made and packaged products, eye-catching craft and other products that will aid in making Guyana a greener country. The first day yesterday, saw a number of school students viewing the exhibits.
Among the other products on display by the IAST were the ‘Rupununi Essence’ line of facewashes and make-up removers that are made from crabwood, lemon grass, and fever grass oils, all sourced from the Rupununi and made and packaged here.
The Hinterland Youth Employment Service, which falls under the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs had achar, farine, crab oil, cassava bread, and coconut oils among other items from the North Rupununi. The representative told Stabroek News that he was happy to be out there to promote and market the indigenous products to help the community.
Cristine Decampbell of ‘Everything Makes Craft’ told Stabroek News that the items at her stall were found and are everyday use items that were made into functional art. She related that the various craftwork were made of upcycled items and some were from students in Region 9 and were made out of sticks, cow face, bones and bottles etc.
Also on show was the Pakaraima Flavours sun-dried tomato ketchup and dressing
from Paramakatoi, which is also packaged and produced by the IAST. It was explained that the tomatoes are grown in the Pakaraimas and profits from the product goes back to the community’s farmers.
Another exhibitor was Patricia Helwig of Despat’s who showcased craft, dresses and food products, all made by her.
Denyse Grant of ‘D’s Body Therapy’ had a number of organic and herbal oils, handmade soaps, boy oils, lip balms and herbal hair foods among other nature-based items. Grant explained that all of her products are natural with no preservatives. She highlighted her lemon and honey soap which helps to clear blemishes and gets rid of acne; and the coffee soap which exfoliates the skin and gets rid of dead skin cells. Her products are also made and packaged locally.
Also on display was a tiny solar-powered home by Woods Direct International. The eco-friendly tiny home costs about $4 million. The home is portable and is insulated with timber panels. The concept of the home emphasises green principles to create environmentally friendly homes, reduce construction time and lower the carbon foot print of the construction.
The Expo continues until October 21st with many attractions including a concert featuring local artistes and a fashion show where four local designers will be challenged to construct creative wear made of recycled materials.