The Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) plans to introduce 13 new grape varieties from South Africa to boost production of wine in the country.
“The new grape varieties will also improve the country’s production of grapes,” said Cornel Massawe, head of TARI at Makutopora Centre near here, which is the country’s leading grape producer.
Tanzania is placed second after South Africa for brewing the best wines in the continent; but there are only two wine grape varieties grown in the country — Makutupora Red and Chenin White — a situation that has caused limited production of more wine varieties..
The seed varieties, to be imported from South Africa, which is a mixture of red and white grafted scions, as well as root stocks are Pinotage, Cabinet Saviugnon, Syrah, Merlot, Durif and Carignan.
Others are Chardonnay, Chenin Black, Semillon, Ramsey, R99, R110 and S04.
According to Dr Cornel Masawe, Head of Makutupora Centre, the timely development will go in tandem with numerous interventions to uplift cultivation of grapes within the country, which is anticipated to stimulate wine making industries from across the country.
Impeccable researches has proved that Tanzania has potential weather to produce grapes with high sugar contents, which is useful in processing wines of high alcoholic percent (from 12 to 14 percent), in surpass to the rest counties in the world where the crops is cultivated.
“Tanzania is the only country in the globe with friendly weather, which supports grapes to grow in two seasons within a year, an advantage which must be used accordingly,” he asserted.
However, he added, scientific facts have also established that grapes grown in Tanzania (Dodoma) are more wine-worthy in terms of good taste and aroma than all other grown in rest part of the world.
Being the country’s grapes and wine hub, Dodoma Region currently has at least three major wine factories — Aliko Vintage Company Ltd, Central Tanganyika Wine Company (CETAWICO), Dane Holding Company (DHC); as well as five other small-scale plants scattered at different locations under ownership of farmers’ associations.
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.
In additional efforts to boost the wine sector, the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) has injected TARI-Makutupora Centre with at least Sh297.906 million for general renovation of the centre’s laboratory.
Upon completion, the laboratory is projected to play a paramount role in empowering local wine producers to bottle more high quality wine varieties.
“The other programme we plan in a near future is conduction of series of theoretical and practical training to impart grapes farmers and extension officers with key knowledge on how to grow the prestigious cash crops more professionally,” he revealed.
To start with, he said, the state-owned centre has already disseminated knowledge on recommended agronomic practices among grapes farmers and extension officers in Bunda, Geita and Same districts.
“Plans are also afoot to empower farmers over modern ways to process their grapes into juice to ensure additional values for their end products,” he added.
For years, it has been widely understood that in Tanzania grapes flourish only in Dodoma Region.
But recent researches have established that the prestigious cash crop can grow well in Morogoro, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Manyara (Babati), Karatu, Tabora, Mara (Bunda) and Ruvuma (Peramiho), which is an added advantage for Tanzania’s wine industry.
Among top wine varieties produced in Tanzania are Dompo, Saint Marry, Image, For You, Presidential Wine, Overmeer, Altar, Sharye and Dane NK Super Wine.