Researchers urge grape farmers to adopt better farming practices

24Jul 2020
The Guardian
Researchers urge grape farmers to adopt better farming practices

​​​​​​​FARMERS engaging in cultivation of grapes have been advised to learn and adopt better farming practices to increase yields.

Dr Geofrey Mkamilo, Director General of the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) said the move will increase productivity and yields.

“It is high time for farmers to turn more professional to tap and benefiting from expanded grapes markets within and outside the county,” said Dr Mkamilo.

He said the institute is currently working tirelessly to research and invent a number of improved seed varieties to enable mass cultivation of table and wine grapes.

“The Makutupora center has been designated to undertake key grapes researches as well as assisting the farmers to be aware and adopt recommended agronomic practices in cultivating grapes. Farmers should bravely use the professional advises from experts at the center to transform their cultivation statuses,” he insisted.

Dr Cornel Masawe, head of the Makutupora center observed that growing grapes was very sensitive hence involved farmers need to be trained on the crop’s best farming techniques to be sure of bumper harvests.

“Growing grapes requires systematic and professional treatment throughout all the stages,” Dr Masawe said.

He added that grapes are required to be planted in special trenches, whereby each hectare comprises of 20 trenches, under a special dimension of 2.5 meters from one trenches to another.

He said each trench consumes 1 lorry (5 tonnes) of fertilizer, often urea during the growing stage and later on farmers are advised to apply termiticide.

Dr Masawe insisted that farmers should be educated on how to control common grapes diseases such as fungus, powdery mildew and downy mildew which are chronic.

He urged the farmers to use the forthcoming Nanenane exhibitions by visiting the institute’s pavilion in order to maximize their knowledge pertaining to best practices in growing grapes.

He further said that TARI Makutupora has initiated a special ‘Farmers Field Day’ as part of continuous efforts to progress the performance of farmers, calling upon them to also use the day to benefit accordingly.

The annually-staged day, according to him, has been introduced to give farmers a key platform to freely acquire best farming –technologies.

“The main focus over establishment of the day is to allow farmers to visit the centre and learning how to cultivate the crop more commercially. They also get chances to survey our diverse demonstration farms under supervision of experienced experts,” he said.

In more efforts to step up production of the grapes and wine sector in Tanzania, he said the center is finalizing processes to introduce into the country at least 13 new wine grape varieties from South Africa.

Tanzania is placed second after South Africa for brewing best wines within the continent, but there are only two wine grape varieties grown in the country, Makutupora Red and Chenin White, a situation which limits production of wider varieties of wines.