Mwanza district is one of the catchment areas in the southern part of Malawi known for many things but it leads the way in local wine (kachasu) brewing. Most villagers have now started the business hence earning money to support their families. As a lot of people know that ingredients for Kachasu brewing are processed Sugar, Maizehusks and water, women of Kasauka village in Mwanza district have a different story to share.
Expensiveness and scarcity of materials and resources used in the process of brewing the local wine has caused residents of Kasauka Village in Mwanza district to come up with alternatives. People in the area are now using sugarcane for brewing kachasu instead of processed sugar. Several times before they did not have anything to do, they thought it wise to start a business which will evoke many customers in the community.
A mother to Four children, Cecelia Josam aged 34 years explains how she brew Kachasu using sugarcane and other mixtures. “There are always new ways of doing things. People know that kachasu ingredients are sugar, maize husks & water. However, we thought it wise to replace sugar with the sugarcane as the processed sugar required more money to buy”.
Why did Cecelia venture into Kachasu brewing using sugarcane? Cecelia was quick to say that it was the only source of money she relied on and continued to say that she learnt to brew kachasu using sugarcane instead of sugar at a tender age of 14 from her parents. “I started this way back in 2000. I learnt it from my parents as I was only 14 years old. This was the only way to get money to feed our family, hence I also initiated into the business. This has helped me to acquire some of the necessities I need such as my house & feeding my family”.
What is involved in the brewing process using the sugarcane? Cecelia Josam explains. “First of all, we go to the garden to fetch the sugarcane. We then slice the sugarcane into pieces using a panga knife. Thereafter, we put it into a mortar and we pound it together with maize husks using a pestle. Then we put the grinded mixture into a pot of cold water pot. We leave it for 4 to 5 days for it to ferment. Then we distill the mixture to have our final product which is the kachasu”, said Cecelia.
When she brews the beer, Cecelia sales it to vendors or customers in the area, and there is always music playing at the drinking place to entertain her customers.
Though it might seem that the final product might be unclean, Cecelia said it looks pure and clean and people from the village and neighboring Kasauka village enjoy taste of the Kachasu. Since she does not spend a lot of money to buy ingredients, Cecelia sells the beer at an affordable price as compared to other people who used processed sugar. Jokingly, Cecelia said that a lot of people like her beer because they believe that acts as a medication to stomach pains.
For the past five years, the brewers have actually been hiring music so as to have more customers thereby increasing the chances of getting more customers. Through this business, Cecelia and other kachasu brewers who chose to be using sugarcane for the expensive processed sugar are able to raise money for necessities as compared to other women who just wait for their husbands to provide for everything.