In a bid to improve grape farming in Dodoma, grape framers are appealing to the government to form a special board which will regulate prices and taxes imposed on the cash crop.
They told the ‘Daily News’ recently that growing grapes was very expensive and time consuming but most dealers and local wine processing factories are purchasing grape fruits and juice at very poor prices.
“We are investing a lot of money in cultivating quality grapes, but unfortunately most local buyers are setting their own prices and in most cases they do not purchase on cash basis,” said Mr Madeghe Kitange, a farmer in Msalato area, Dodoma municipality.
He said that most local buyers were purchasing grapes at 800/- and 1, 200/- per kilogramme, saying the price doesn’t reflect on the actual expenditures of cultivating the favourable cash crop.
Moreover, he said the farmers have been encountering several challenges, including low prices of grapes during rainy season, propelled by low quality of grapes due to high humidity, high temperature and diseases.
“Quality of grapes in the dry season is high but farmers have to keep the grapes in farm for a long time before harvesting the fruits in order to attain the required quality for producing wines,” he said.
Another farmer, Mr Paulo Shana, raised concern over a challenge to obtain refract meter device for testing the quality of sugar content in the grapes before harvests. “Since the government has in the recent past demonstrated positive concern in improving cultivation of grapes, it is prudent for the ministry to start by solving diverse challenges facing the local farmers,” he challenged.
Sharing his experience in the relevant field, a proprietor of Dodoma-based Alko Vintage wine factory, Archard Kato, said a lot has to be put in place in order to improve performance of the sub-sector.
“Despite being among key cash crops in the country, cultivation of grapes still faces a number of challenges and farmers are yet to benefit from the fruits,” he said.
There are at least 1696 grape farmers in the region who are based in 25 different villages of Dodoma, Bahi and Chamwino districts, where a total of 10,052 tonnes were produced last year.
Globally, there are more than 360 types of wine grapes, but in Tanzania only three types are grown, namely, Makutupora Reds (Cinsault), Cyrah (Shiraz) and Chinene.