The initial Covid-19 lockdown battered small vegetable farmers reports Mmathapelo Thobejane, but now that restrictions have eased, women vegetable farmers in Limpopo are flourishing.
A group of eight women in Limpopo from different villages started an initiative way before Covid-19 to promote a sustainable livelihood through vegetable gardening and to improve the health and build the capacity of women residing in these areas to start their own home gardens, regardless of their income or background.
The women started small. The land belongs to one of the women and it’s leased to the group. The community is situated less than 300m away from a mine.
Their businesses were badly affected by Covid-19. Their regular customers were street vendors but Covid-19 regulations prohibited street vendors from trading during the pandemic. The demand for their produce dwindled, and some of their harvest was wasted. There was no income on both ends, the economic cycle was disconnected. Producing and selling became difficult for this group of women.
With the relaxation of lockdown regulations, they are now back on the game because ‘we have no other source of income to take care of our families’.
‘This year we are looking to expand our work and start selling chicken eggs. Our families will never go to bed on [an] empty stomach and we also manage to have some little income after selling our veggies,’ said one of the farmers.
The project started small with little knowledge on farming, but with passion and dedication the project is now flourishing and generating income for the women.
Despite the strides made by the gardening project, its members would appreciate support and recognition from the mining companies operating in these communities.
Wa lala wasala…shoma motho wa mme shoma!
Mmathapelo Thobejane is an activist and coordinator of the Limpopo Provincial Community Monitoring School of the Benchmarks Foundation
* Agriculture is a treasure!