Dodoma. Tanzania’s wine processing sector is inching towards a bright future after introducing two globally acclaimed wine grape seed varieties, a move that key players in the industry have welcomed.
Though placed second after South Africa for brewing the best wines within the continent, there were only two wine grape varieties grown in Tanzania, namely, Makutupora Red and Chenin White, thwarting the country’s ability to produce many types of wines.
Globally, there are more than 360 types of wine grapes. The new best wine grape seed varieties, imported from South Africa, have been inspected and certified by the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI). They are the Syrah and wine raisin grapes (Ruby seedless).
Dr Cornel Masawe, the Director General for the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Makutupora Centre, told The Chanzo during an exclusive interview that the introduction of the new varieties will help the country to place itself in a more comfortable status to compete highly and benefiting from the world’s wine making and marketing industry.
“The introduction of the varieties will enable the local wine processors to start hatching best wine brands which will fetch large markets globally,” Dr Masawe said.
He said the centre was now embarking on mass production of the seeds and will disseminate the same to the farmers for enough multiplication to ensure the wine factories get enough wine grapes bulk juice for processing.
Dr Masawe said the state-owned Makutupora Centre, designated for the research and production of grapes and wines, has recently installed an Sh398 million worth of ultra-modern wine processing laboratory intending to train the local wine processors to improve the quality of their products.
“The lab is equipped with high-profile facilities from France, Italy and South Africa for the research and production of classic wines,” he noted. “Among others, the core target for the lab installation is to ensure for professional additional value chain for grape products, but also, to scale-up conduction of diverse wine research and training.”
New foundation stone
Commenting on the development, the proprietor of the Aliko Vintage Company, Archard Kato, observed that the development was laying a new foundation stone to support the country’s wine sector to curve a new successful niche.
The wine mogul, who’s a producer of the best wines that are currently competing highly in the world market, including Dompo, Image, For You and Alter, to mention but a few, said Tanzania has a prestigious potential to stand at the apex of the global winemaking industry, should all barriers removed.
“Despite making crucial strides, numerous setbacks have been haunting the local wine sector for years, including the presence of only two wine grape varieties,” he said, adding that the advent of the new varieties was a blessing to the processors.
For his part, Ringo Iringo, a small-scale wine processor in Dodoma, said the local processors still face myriad challenges besides hailing the introduction of the wine varieties.
Poor technology in winemaking and the imposition of high taxes on importing necessary facilities from China, such as wine bottles and bottle caps, were among the setbacks he said to have been weakening the performance of local producers.
“As the government and the relevant stakeholders are continuing to ramp up efforts in wine grapes seeds, it is prudent also for the government to mull over setting friendly environment and policies to enable the processors to scale up their executions,” he urged.
Danford Semwenda, the owner of Dodoma-based Dane Holdings Company Limited, stated that though there are some improvements in the wine industry, there are still some challenges.
Semwenda, whose company dwells in the production of reputable wine brands, such as ‘Dane NK Super,’ a red sweet wine, named the challenges as lack of grape farming experts (viticulturists), finance to expand the local factories in terms of increasing the number of machines and storage capacity.
“It is disconcerting to learn that most of the wines in Tanzania are imported mainly from South Africa, France and Italy,” he decried. “It’s high time for Tanzanians to value and start using their local wine products.”
The government is working to install at least three significant factories for the processing and storing of grape bulk juice in different parts across the Dodoma Region, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Anthony Mavunde told The Chanzo recently during an interview.
The Sh3 billion project will be implemented in the Chinangali II area of Chamwino district, to occupy at least 6000 acres in the Mpunguzi area (3000 acres), and the last to plant will occupy 4000 acres in the Hombolo suburb of Dodoma.
Dodoma region has at least three major wine factories: Aliko Vintage Co. Ltd, Central Tanganyika Wine Company (CETAWICO), and Dane Holding Company (DHC).
The region also has more than five other small-scale plants scattered at different locations under the ownership of farmers’ associations.
Valentine Oforo is a freelance journalist based in Dodoma, Tanzania. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.