Okavango Craft Brewery (OCB) Co-Founder and Director, Graham McCulloch wants the microbrewery to help local farmers in the Okavango Pan handle.
Established in 2019, Okavango Craft Brewery is Maun’s first licensed microbrewery and is located at the old Sports Bar in Senonnori Ward, along Sir Seretse Khama road, Maun. The enterprise offers a variety of millet made beers made from malt sourced from locally harvested millet using mineral water from the Okavango Delta.
McCulloh said the brewery will help local farmers residing in the area, especially around Seronga since they get their millet from there. He proposed that rather than the farmers having their produce bought at a lower price in the market they can be rewarded by selling to the Brewery.
The Director of OCB who co-founded and directed an ecoexist project, a long-term conservation program aimed at reducing human elephant conflict and finding solutions for coexistence between elephants and people in the Okavango Delta. He is adamant that farmers will be rewarded for their efforts to coexist with elephants as they will mostly be working with those who are for co-existence .Co-existing with wildlife will create a sustainable, inclusive growth for the Okavango region.
About 80 percent of farmers in the Okavango area are subsistence farmers .They grow crops for family consumption and in most cases they do not yield enough crop due to primitive farming methods and damage mostly done by Elephants.In an effort to drive new and innovative ways to diversify the wildlife economy in Northern Botswana, Okavango Craft Brewery is promoting stainable farming practices that are tied to a wildlife economy. ‘‘We taught people many things such as ploughing far from Elephant paths’’, he said.
COVID-19 has impacted on many industries the Tourism industry is no exception been hard hit. According to the North West District Council September 14 to 18 speech it says closure of tourism enterprises commenced on the 24th February 2020. By the end of April 2020, 90.7% of the facilities were closed and only 9.3% were open to guests. Facilities which were open during this period were those able to work from home, and this included those doing marketing, handling refunds and rescheduling tickets via the internet. Many people are now unemployed hence the need support them.
During the first phase of the COVID-19 Impact Survey which was carried out on the 11th until 16th March 2020, loss of jobs was registered, with 8.1% of employees that were employed in some tourism facilities were laid-off. In order to avert more job losses, 93.7% of tourism enterprises reported that they intended to apply for the Government wage subsidy.
The Brewery has since employed nine staff members since reopening and aims to employ and train more people on brewing. The Director also said they have developed a cooperative in the Okavango Pan Handle for all farmers to register provided they follow new agricultural methods.
He also said COVID-19 has affected them as they were about to open shop when the first lockdown was imposed. The limit nuber of people who are allowed to enter the establishment has also impacted negatively on sales as they now rely on pre-bookings. He is however hopeful that their products will be distributed Nationwide and outside the country.
To make sure that their products are of high quality they sought the professional guidance and experience of Food Techniacin and business partner, Heine Du Toit, who helps them produce quality products .Currently they five varieties of alcohol being Kolsch, Indian Pale Ale, Golden Ale,Brown Ale and Irish Stout.