Potagurt - sweet potato yoghurt
Groups of women in Ghana have recently started selling a new milk-based product. Potagurt is made from a blend of milk and sweet potato, which is pasteurised and turned into a nutritious and filling type of yoghurt. IFAD’s Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing programme has provided assistance, including grants and loans in the form of yoghurt-making equipment, as well as training on hygiene, business development and record keeping. And by providing a new market for sweet potato, the initiative is also promoting greater cultivation of the crop in Ghana. Kofi Adu Domfeh speaks to some of those involved.
Dzreke The yoghurt already in the market is made from milk, but for Potagurt we have added sweet potato. So it makes it more nutritious because of the sweet potato that we have added to the milk and it's more filling. You take Potagurt and you are more satisfied than if you take yoghurt.
Domfeh The Potagurt production has opened up new job opportunities for women groups in areas where sweet potato is produced. Madam Doris, a member of one of the women's groups benefiting from the intervention, explains how Potagurt is produced.
Nabare You first of all wash your potatoes. You then put it in the oven for baking. Then you take your powered milk with a cup of warm water, add it to the sweet potato and blend it. You then put it on the fire. After a while you use the thermometer to check that it is up to 90 degrees. You then remove it from the fire. After that step, add your starter culture. Incubate it for four hours to six hours and put it in the freezer for three good hours. You then take it from the freezer and put it in the fridge. Then you cream it, put sugar, add flavour, bottle it, so that it's now ready for consumption.
Domfeh Veronica says the women are supported to access funding to purchase requisite equipment and invest in food hygiene, quality management and processing systems.
Dzreke You know producing Potagurt you need very good equipment, especially the fridge and then the freezer. That is why we want to be able to assist these women to be able to buy this equipment. And also you need a clean environment to be able to produce Potagurt, because it's a milk product and you know milk is a very good medium for bacterial growth. So we are very particular about hygiene, if you have to produce Potagurt.
Domfeh The women are given grants ranging from US $400 for individuals in a group, to US$12,000 for growth oriented enterprises based on bankable business plans. Project Officer of the Naara Rural Bank, Kambilige Stanley, says the groups have performed incredibly well. According to him, the women are recording almost 100 percent in loan repayment.
Kambilige The loan facility is not cash basis. We extend it in the form of equipment. They need a freezer. They need blenders, they need a thermometer, which being an individual would have been so difficult to acquire. The repayments are on time. The repayments are up to date in terms of amount and the activity has been one which I think has been encouraged by all.
Domfeh Such business support has changed the fortunes of the women. Beneficiaries can now further their education as well as support siblings and children's education.
Doris The support has been good to the groups, because it has helped some of us to be able to at least do something for our family. Some of us were sitting down doing nothing. In fact we didn't know that something good can come out of potatoes. So it has helped a lot of us to be able to have a trade, to be doing. And that one is bringing some income into our home.
Domfeh Already, the Programme is looking to scaling up the Potagurt business to other parts of the country where sweet potato is cultivated. Veronica is excited at the demand for Potagurt. She says there are arrangements to ensure the women remain in business and promote the production of potato.
Dzreke All the farmer needs to know is that there is market for his produce, and they will go into production of the sweet potato. So if the demand for the Potagurt goes up, definitely there will be market for the raw material, and then farmers will go into production. We are building the capacity of these women. We are particular about food hygiene, so we have training programmes in quality management and processing systems. We have training on business development. We have training on record keeping, costing, everything, so they will see whatever they are doing as business. Not just sell Potagurt today and then tomorrow that is the end of the day, but we want to build their capacity so that they will be confident, they will stand on their feet, and then remain in Potagurt production. End of track.
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Food & nutrition