As the government plans to expand grape and wine production and the inclusion of grapes on the list of economic strategy crops, small scale grapes farmers in Dodoma are hopeful of stable markets within and outside Tanzania.
Grape grower Ms Frida Josia said they see the light at the end of the tunnel by the government decision to list grapes among the strategic crops. “Grape farming is in my blood. When I was small, my father took me to our family grape farm, and I observed how they dig the farrows, put manure in them, and plant the seedlings, so grape farming is in my blood.”
She said in Dodoma at the time, there was no permanent market for wine grapes; the main customer was the DOWICO factory which went under in 1990, and many farmers stopped growing grapes. After years of assisting with grape farming, her father, she said, handed her the first piece of land in 2008, a quarter of an acre. She began farming grapes, starting with eleven rows of grape vines, and harvesting in 2011.
“By that time, the market had improved because of new grape buyers flocking to Dodoma, acquiring grapes and selling them in Dar es Salaam and nearby Kenya” she told allafrica.com. “When a winery become our main buyer of wine grapes in 2010, the firm wanted to help us receive loans and agriculture inputs to ensure good quality and quantity of grapes, so the KUMEKUCHA group was formed and I was elected as its secretary.”
The group consists of local grape farmers, with its main goal of improving farmer’s economic development through access to loans for agriculture inputs and access to stable markets.