A woman on her feet equals a nation on its feet: a story of a small scale farmer

FarmerIt’s 5am in the cold autumn morning light of Mtubatuba, and Mam BZ Mabuyakhulu of Mpukunyoni area (pictured left), a mother of eight and grandmother of thirteen, is already in the garden.  Her field is dark green with spinach and butternuts.  She is carrying two ten litre buckets with both hands, watering the seedlings that she has ordered from Zimele Agriculture Programme. Her two water tanks, 2200 and 5000 litres, are full after being filled up from a tractor she has paid R550 to do so the day before.  Three big piles of spinach have been harvested, ready to be taken to the Mtubatuba street vendors to be sold.

A member of Buhlebukhona SHG under the Siphamandla cluster, “Mabhiza” as she is affectionately known, is a talented and busy woman. She is a creative beader, a compassionate care-giver and an industrious farmer. As a group they farm together but due to limited access to water and long walking distances to group fields, their agricultural production thrives more at household level. Mam Mabuyakhulu is one of the beneficiaries of the Zimele Agriculture Programme infrastructure development programme. Through this programme she has had her garden fully fenced and a 5 000 litre water tank installed. This has helped her to farm more productively because she does not have to worry about stray livestock damaging her crops, and although she had her own 2000 litre water tank its capacity was insufficient to cater for her fresh produce needs.

Her farming has gone beyond the point where it ensures food security for a family of twenty-three: she now not only sells her fresh agricultural produce to her local community but has gone further and has negotiated an agreement with three of Mtubatuba’s top retailers to supply them with fresh spinach every week. All three want 50 bunches of spinach each every Friday, and each bunch cost not less than R5. This is a major achievement for this small-scale farmer, selling wider than her neighbours on her own initiative and negotiating her own prices.

Benefitting from the Zimele infrastructure development programme has not only ensured that this farmer is able to put food on the table and sell her produce at leading retail stores, she insists that the intervention through training, provision of quality input, and her passion and dedication towards her farming activities have helped put one of her children through university. This promising student is currently doing her third and final year of studies at Mangosuthu University of Technology.

Mabhiza sings the praises of Zimele’s Agricultural Programme team, saying that they are always willing to respond to the needs of their beneficiaries. She now wishes to look into how she can address her water limitation challenge in a more sustainable and long term manner. After completing her re-payment instalments for the fencing and water tank she intends to seek assistance with a water catchment area. We know she will succeed!
Above: Mam “Mabhiza” in her fields with another Zimele woman looking on.

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