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TRUE! Pink-coloured Garri is made from sweet potato in Ghana

Claim: A Facebook post shared an image of a pink-coloured flour, claiming that it is garri made from sweet potato in Ghana.

Verdict: Our findings show that garri is made from purple potato (botanically classified as Solanum Tuberosum), and it is common in Anlo Tsiame, Ghana.

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Garri (or Gari, in the Ghanaian variation) is an edible local flour consumed by many, regardless of their social status in Africa due to its affordability and versatility. Apart from white garri, which is the most common, there are two other types ( yellow and Ijebu), dominating the Nigerian market, which are all made from cassava. 

However, a picture showing some flour in pink colour was shared by Olubukola Akeju on a Facebook group, Do It Yourself Alternative Therapy Global. According to the post, the flour is garri made from sweet potato. 

Ms Akeju wrote, “Wow… it won’t need sugar when drinking but the Eba may not be possible though.”

As of September 16, 2023, the post had gained 676 reactions and 133 comments, where social media users also expressed their disbelief. One Adedokun Adijat said the variant is impossible to produce unless it is coloured. She wrote, “You can never have this colour. The red back will be [peeled] before processing and the inner is of [sic.] white. This must be tinted garri with [fushcia] pink coloring.”

Another comment from Essien Blessing reads, “If it is not from cassava, then it’s not my dear loving garri.”

The disparity of thoughts and the curiosity about the unusual look of the product prompted DUBAWA to fact-check the claim.

Verification

Seeing that the post made by Ms Akeju contained a screenshot of a post on X (formerly Twitter) by Your Ginger Plug, we used Wayback Machine (an online tool used to access previous activities of a website or tweet) to access the account. We found that the post by Your Ginger Plug (@SeyramOfficial) was originally made on July 29, 2023, with the caption, “This is gari made from sweet potatoes, here in the Volta region.”

Screenshot of the tweet

As of September 17, 2023, the post had gained more than two million views and 426 bookmarks. In the comment, the X user revealed that the garri is made at Anlo Tsiame, a part of the Volta region in Ghana. 

We reached out to a reliable source in the region, Ivy Setordjie, a Ghanaian broadcast journalist, who confirmed the existence of this type of garri. She explained that Ghanaians also produce garri from the common sweet potato (scientifically called Ipomoea Batatas).

Garri made with purple potato vs. brown potato from Anlo Tsiame. Photo Source: Ivy Setordjie

Having verified that it is truly consumed as garri, we proceeded to identify the type of sweet potato used to make the product.

Purple potato

Purple potato, scientifically known as Solanum tuberosum, is a vibrant and visually striking variety of potato with a distinct purple skin and flesh from the Andean region of South America. Known for their unique flavour and vibrant colour, purple potatoes are rich in anthocyanins, which are natural pigments that give them their purple hue. It also contains antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. 

Purple potato. Source: Southern Living

They are a good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and fibre, making them a nutritious addition to a balanced diet.

Purple Potatoes can be grown in various regions of Africa, although their cultivation may be limited to specific climate and soil conditions. Highland areas with cooler temperatures, well-distributed rainfall, and well-drained soils are more favourable for potato cultivation, including purple potatoes. Farmers in these regions may choose to grow purple Potatoes alongside other potato varieties.

Process

We found out that the purple garri is made through the same process of making garri from sweet potato. The first step after peeling the tubers is to grate it, so it can be easier to blend. Subsequently, a cheesecloth is used to extract the liquid components in the blended material. In cases where a cheesecloth is not available, a chiffon bag can be used.

Then, the dry form is sieved to make it lighter and fluffy. Afterwards, the ground potato is poured on a pan for dry-frying on a low or medium heat level and continually stirred to produce a dry and crispy flour good for consumption.

In the case of the purple garri, the colour is naturally maintained throughout the entire process till it becomes edible flour.

Conclusion

Our findings show that there is garri made from purple sweet potato in Ghana that is not mixed with food colouring, as many believed. Therefore, the claim is true.

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