The root crop, cassava, is integral to the way of life of Indigenous people in Guyana. It is the source of a multitude of products, such as cassava bread, farine, casareep and a variety of beverages. In fact, all families in the community likely have a small cassava farm. The variety of cassava most notably is referred to as ‘bitter cassava’; it contains cyanide, so to consume it without first properly processing it would have deadly consequences. This is where traditional knowledge plays such a crucial role. From planting to harvesting, to retaining and storing cassava sticks for future use, and of course, the actual method of initially processing the cassava, traditional knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation. Much of this knowledge is passed down through the process of ‘learning by doing’, where young ones accompanying their parents and grandparents to their farms are taught skills over time. Ensuring the continuity of such knowledge sharing dynamics at the family level is important to sustaining the custom of making traditional foods and drinks.
Today’s video comes to you from the village of Parikwarinawa in South-Central Rupununi. It features the preparation of parakari (a local drink made from cassava). We also learn of its link to self-help which is an important part of community life that continues even to today. Made by community researchers from the Darwin Initiative Traditional Knowledge in Conservation project.
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