The TANZANIA Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) campaign to expand grape cultivation is being hampered by the lack of vine processing facilities outside of Dodoma.
The institute said farmers need simple grape processing facilities to crush and squeeze the fruit into watery form for easy handling, instead of transporting it raw.
For example, farmers in Kibaigwa and Mpwapwa have been unable to find wholesale buyers due to the logistical challenge of transporting and maintaining the freshness of the grapes until they reach the processing facilities of Dodom.
Director of TARI’s Makutupora Center, Dr Cornel Massawe, said they face a daunting task to encourage farmers to grow grapes in areas where there is no processing factory.
“The grape processing factories are in Dodoma [city]. We want all the Dodoma to grow grapes and then move to another area,” Dr Massawe told The Daily News on Thursday.
Due to the challenge, TARI is now focusing on maximizing viticulture (viticulture) in the Dodoma region before venturing out into the countryside to other regions that have suitable land for viticulture.
“Once we make sure that Dodoma, which is the most suitable region of the country (for growing grapes), is fully exploited for viticulture, we will move on to another region. “In Dodoma, we also encourage traders and farmers to invest in small-scale grape processing. factories, even if not for winemaking, to prevent the grapes from spoiling,” Dr Massawe said.
After registering a positive result in Dodoma, the director said, they will move to other regions starting with Singida and then Tabora.
“Our goal is to ensure that when people decide to grow grapes, they realize the benefits of the investment. The idea behind it is to create a ready market for farmers’ produce to avoid post-harvest losses,” he said.
To this end, the TARI–Makutupora Center continues to provide training to farmers and extension officers on good agricultural practices for grape production along the value chain at Chamwino District Council in Mpwapwa, the Dodoma region.
The training targets local government leaders including ward councillors, extension officers, district agricultural officers, ward and village cadres.
For example, in last week’s training, Dr. Massawe said, various topics on grape production and processing technologies were covered, including site selection, land preparation, identification and management of insects, pests and diseases, grape management, proper harvesting techniques, post-harvest and grape enhancement techniques.
“We are training them to reduce losses. In the current situation, processors are hardly buying from local farmers because they have their own vineyards to meet their needs,” Dr Massawe said.
In July last year, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa instructed all councils in Dodoma to set up nurseries to produce grape seedlings to enable farmers to obtain reliable and quality seeds. The regions whose soil has been studied and found to be suitable for growing grapes are Tabora, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro, Singida and Manyara