The Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) has done it again. Another transformative product which utilizes ancient Indigenous Knowledge has been developed into a tertiary consumer product through the application of Science and Technology.
To its growing range of high-value, well-packaged and nationally transformative products, the Institute has now added SAK – a functional nutraceutical product designed to improve cardiac health, guard against cancer-causing free radicals, improve the body’s ability to combat stress, promote gut health and boost the immune system, promote the growth of healthy hair, skin and nails and improve circulation.
The product, which is based on the use of a purple sweet potato strain found in the high savannahs of the Rupununi and the valleys of the Pakaraima mountains, has a high content of anthocyanins, a polyphenol responsible for free radical scavenging (thereby reducing the risk of cancer), promotion of cardiac health and lowering of blood pressure, boosting of the body’s immune system and increase of circulatory function.
With a high percentage of fibre, the product promotes gut health and absorption of unhealthy ingredients in the gut. With enhanced levels of magnesium, the product also enhances the body’s ability to deal with stress. Vitamins A, C and E promote the growth of healthy skin, nails and hair and are added as part of a nine-vitamin cocktail recommended by PAHO for the Caribbean region. One 10 ounce bottle of the product provides a full 25% (or quarter) of the daily recommended intake of vitamins.
The carefully formulated non-alcoholic nutraceutical beverage is sold as an original and low calorie formulation. It was developed with the popular Indigenous Beverage, FLY providing the base motivation. Professor Suresh Narine, Director of IAST, explained that the idea for the beverage came about in a conversation with VP and Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock.
Allicock explained that FLY is used as more than just an alcoholic beverage – that it provides important health benefits. The IAST then spent several years researching the purple potatoes and in developing the product.
Narine was loud in praise for the IAST team, especially Head of the Food and Feed Department, Mr. Sewpersaud Manohar, for their efforts in developing the product.
As with the Institute’s Pakaraima Flavours and Rupununi Essence products, SAK is sold under a brand name that evokes Guyana’s natural environmental patrimony – Kaieteur Nutraceuticals. Also like these other transformative products, the business model for SAK seeks to put all proceeds into the hands of the Indigenous Farmers and to promote Indigenous way of life and cultural mores. In fact, the word SAK is Patamona for Potato.
Quietly and without much fanfare, the Institute of Applied Science and Technology has been developing and commercializing a series of transformative products over the past few years – including the very successful rice based cereal, Morning Glory. Narine said “Science and Technology has an incubation period – products are not developed overnight, but must be worked on carefully, especially when the public health is implicated, such as in the design of new food products.”
The Institute’s impact in employment and the production of local brands capable of competing with imported brands, however, has been truly transformative.
Prof. Narine credits this to the support of successive governments in IAST’s mandate and to a dedicated and engaged staff base. Professor Narine, who is also a senior professor in Physics and Astronomy and Chemistry at Trent University in Canada and also the Executive Chairman of CGX Energy, has long been an advocate for high value processing in Guyana and for the environment.
He said of this latest innovation, which has been described as Guyana’s first nutraceutical product, “There is a kind of spontaneous combustion which occurs, a kind of effervescence of the spirit, when through careful and constant effort, a breakthrough like this occurs.
Instinctively, you know when you have a winner and this reinforces the need for careful and constant research…it is all the reward that scientists need, to see their work result in products which will have multiple benefits – in this case, health, financial and cultural.”
The IAST is showcasing its products at the Green Expo – attendees have been treated to an eye-opening array of green technologies and products in a uniquely laid out booth space which has garnered high praise.
SAK , Dr. Narine explained, will be selectively test marketed until Christmas at which point it is expected that the product will be widely available. Part of the challenges faced by the product is the development of supply chain relationships with the Patamonas and Makushis of Regions Eight and Nine.
Narine explained that the next several months will be spent in consultations with the farmers and the organizing of them into cooperatives to grow increased amounts of the all-important purple sweet potatoes.
The intent is to purchase and partially process the potatoes in the regions and then to transport and process the dried potatoes into the nutraceutical drink in a state-of-the-art facility at the IAST. A series of important improvements to the IAST’s equipment base are planned over the next few years, together with investments in solar dryers and pre-processing equipment in Regions Eight and Nine.
However, Kaieteur News have also learned from several people, especially men, who have tested the product that its enhancement of circulatory functions also has an impact on male sexual function – justifying one of the taglines of the product – “Purple is the New Blue!”
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