Tanzania has kicked off initiative to improve production of grapes and wine brew in the country. Ministry of agriculture announced to have started to implement the directives of Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.
Crop Development Director at the ministry, Nyasebwa Chimagu, said that the ministry has launched a special exercise that identifies all grape farmers in Dodoma region as well as their cultivation acreages. At least 300,000 farmers had already been registered, and the exercise would continue to reach out to more farmers.
“Despite being the hub of grape cultivation within the country, farmers in Dodoma are yet to fully use the available endowed opportunity for the production of the crop due to several challenges, we must now address. The objective is to ensure the farmers are empowered to adopt better agronomic practices, and improved technologies with an eye to raising production and yields in the cultivation,” said Mr. Chimagu.
Mr Chimagu further said the program would also include implementing realistic initiatives, which motivate farmers to start producing bulk and quality yields, needed in the additional value chain of production.
“Most wine processing factories currently prefer to purchase bulk juices instead of branches of grapes. Under the initiative, the plan was to see the farmers entering into profitable contract farming with wine making industries, in order to realize more deserved profits,” he observed.
On his part, Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI- Makutupora) Head, Cornel Masawe said that Tanzania was the only country in the world with a friendly weather that supports grapes to grow in two seasons within a year. Masawe further said even with scientific research, grapes cultivation in Tanzania (Dodoma) ensure quality wine brew, in terms of taste and aroma, in comparison to other parts of the world, hence, a need for the government to inject enough funds into the sector.
Empowering local wine producers
As part of the center’s efforts to spur performance of the sector, he said, TARI is in the process of introducing at least 13 new wine grape varieties from South Africa. Masawe mentioned the species as a mixture of red and white grafted scions, and root stocks family of Pinotage, Cabernet Saviugnon, Syrah, Merlot, Durif and Carignan, Chardonnay, Chenin Black, Semillon, Ramsey, R99, R110 and S04.
In further efforts to boost the wine sector, the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) has released some 297.906m to TARI- Makutupora Center for their general renovations especially at their laboratory. Upon its completion, Dr. Masawe said, the laboratory will play a great role in empowering local wine producers, adding:
“The other program we plan in the near future is to conduct a series of theoretical and practical training to impart grapes’ farmers and Extension Officers with key knowledge on how to grow the prestigious cash crops.”
To start with, he said the state-owned centre has already disseminated knowledge on recommended agronomic practices, among grape growers and extension officers in Bunda, Geita and Same district. Though placed second after South Africa in brewing best wines within the continent, there are only two wine grape varieties grown in Tanzania- Makutupora Red and Chenin White, a situation which limits the country’s ability to produce wider varieties of wines. Globally, Tanzania’s wines are currently competing highly in the world market against famous brands from Italy, French, Germany, Britain, America, China and South Africa.