By Rehema Mbugi
Stubbornly low grape prices are having a more severe impact on farmers than previously thought. Farmers are on it that low value addition is the biggest reason for such low prices.
They are on the view that construction of processing industries is the main solution to helping grape farmers reap peanut from their harvests.
“Grape farming is capital intensives. One needs to spend at least Sh10 mil for commercial farming and between Sh700,000-800,000 for input cost each season per acre,” said a farmer in Dodoma
It is estimated that post harvest loss stands at 30 per cent each season.
Grape farming and wine industry in Tanzania started in the early 1960s. Despite Dodoma being the only region growing grapes in the country, farmers are still struggling with poverty and less courage to increase production.
However demand of grapes domestically seems to be very high this is because there is a significant amount of table grapes and concentrated bulk wine sometimes being imported mostly during grapes off seasons. There are two harvest seasons annually starting February to March and in August coming to September, this is another uniqueness of Dodoma climatic weather conditions whereby there are two seasons instead of one as it is the common experience around the world.
The price and market for grapes is not predictable, most of buyers buy grapes at the price ranging between 700 to 800 Tshs while 1 kg of imported grapes is being sold at 11500 Tshs and a litre of domestically processed bulk wine is being sold at a price ranging from 1600 to 2300 Tshs depending on the quality of bulk wine (UWAZAMA grape farmer’s survey report 2015).
Ushirika WA Wakulima WA Zabibu Na Masoko Mpunguzi (UWAZAMAM) LTD owned by 193 Mpunguzi ward grape small scale farmers are among the stakeholders who have organised and coordinated themselves to ensure they add value at the farm level by crashing grapes to produce grape bulk wine.
UWAZAMAM have been supported by the Local Investment Climate (LIC) Project through Small Investment Facility Fund (SIFF) to complete the construction of its factory building that stores and house the machineries used to process grapes and storage of bulk wine. The group has managed to secure a big contract with one of the wine manufacturing companies and sold 50,000