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Kikwete Orders Follow Up On Grape Farmers Claims

August 31, 2014

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has ordered for follow up to establish whether the Tanzania Breweries Limited had taken up loans owed to grape farmers after acquiring a Dodoma based wine maker, Cetawico.

President Kikwete who is on official tour of Dodoma Region issued the order here over the weekend when he was speaking with Buigiri villagers in Chamwino District.

President Kikwete order followed a plea from the Member of Parliament for Chilonwa Constituency, Ezekiah Chibulunje who sought government assistance to ensure grape farmers were paid about 20m/- after selling grapes to the wine making company in the previous season.

"Tanzania Breweries has acquired Cetawico, we want to know if the new investor will pay all the debts to farmers," the Chilonwa legislators had said.

However, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry ofAgriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Sophia Kaduma said the ministry is following up the matter to make sure all legal claims from the farmers are paid. Earlier, Mr Chibulunje claimed he was following up the claims to Cetawico management but he was not successful.

"The investor does not cooperate. Even when we send him a letter, he does not reply. We do not know where he gets this arrogance," he complained adding such issues were discouraging wananchi who had ventured into grape farming so as to relieve themselves from poverty.

Reading development report of the district, the Chamwino District Commissioner, Fatma Ally said grape production had increased to the extent of bringing up challenges of market which is big enough to consume all the produce.

She said in 2012/2013 red grapes were sold at 800/- per kilogramme and white grapes went for 1,200/- per kilogramme in the market, but Cetawico which was the biggest buyer offered less than the market price.

She said Cetawico offered 700/- per kilogramme for red grapes and 850/- per kilogramme for white grapes. She said up to now the farmers claim about 25.2m/- from the wine making company which are payments for grapes sold to the company from the previous harvesting season.

The District Commissioner said the Tanzania Investment Bank had agreed to loan the District Council funds to construct a processing plant for grapes at Chinangali scheme. She said a consultant would complete a feasibility study, architectural design and costs of the project within this month.

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Source: AllAfrica

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