RECOGNISING the importance of the linkage between grape farmers and wine producers, Dodoma-based top wine producer, Alko Vintages Company Limited, has embarked on a special programme to support smallholder grape farmers in Dodoma.
The company’s Managing Director, Mr Archard Kato, told the ‘Daily News’ here yesterday that the main goal of the special programme was to uplift the level of grape production in the Central Zone region.
“Dodoma is still a very huge potential grape producer, but farmers have exploited a small area of the opportunity,” said the managing director, who doubles as the technical director of the company.
Dodoma is the country’s major grape growing region, making Tanzania the second largest producer of wine in Sub Saharan Africa after South Africa.
Mr Kato said the special programme has three components, namely Agricultural Input Support, On-farm Training and micro-vinification, pointing out the component of micro vinification facilitates smallholder grape farmers to make wine.”
Under On-Farm component, we facilitate experts on grape farming to visit farmers while on the farm in order to provide them with knowledge to improve grape production,” he observed.
As for micro-vinification, Mr Kato explained that his company supports the smallholder farmers to get wine making supplies to be able to carry out small scale wine production, and that the company purchases the wine from the smallholder farmers.
He added that through Agricultural Input Support component, his company provides smallholder grape farmers with agricultural input support to improve production.
“Smallholder grape farmers receive fertilizers and materials used for production from our company in order to increase productivity,” said the company’s Managing Director.
Mr Kato said the special programme has facilitated to enhance cooperation between farmers and his company, urging other smallholder grape farmers to form groups in order to get benefits from the special programme.
“We encourage other smallholder farmers to form groups, because it’s easier for the company to reach farmers in groups rather than individual farmers,” he said.