Growing food more than just a job - drought-hit farmer

2015-11-05 10:36
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Durban - Growing crops is not just a job. It requires passion, love and care.

This is the belief of Pietermaritzburg vegetable farmer, 64-year-old Hlaleleni Louisa Buthelezi.

Buthelezi is one of thousands of farmers countrywide struggling to maintain her business due to natural and financial challenges.

With KwaZulu-Natal in the grip of drought, Buthelezi said her hydroponic farming technique is in jeopardy.

"We try our best to save as much water as we can. It is vital for us to ensure we get good crops that are high quality."

Freshness of farm life

Buthelezi, who grew up in a farming community in the rural KwaZulu-Natal town of Bulwer, said her formative years made her a stickler for high-quality products.

"I always worked - be it foraging for wood in the forest or gardening to provide meals for my family. I remember very clearly the cleanliness and freshness of farm life.

"I was always helping out wherever I could. Back then going into the forest was normal to find wood or other natural resources to help me provide for my family."

Buthelezi said learning how to grow vegetables happened spontaneously.

"It wasn’t something that I just learnt one day. No one really taught me. It just happened. I watched people and I discovered my own way of doing things."

Now, said Buthelezi, modern farming has become a far greater challenge.

"We have fallen on hard times because water is vital to my farm. Life has become harder for me now. This drought has made hydroponic growth very hard and we are not receiving much assistance from the government."

Helping create tomorrow’s farmers

Buthelezi runs a vegetable farm in Pietermaritzburg that employs more than 20 including young people whom she is mentoring.

She has also started a development programme at the Fundokhule Secondary School.

The spunky entrepeneur said she now hopes to further her business and make inroads internationally.

"If I can get a major supermarket contract or send our goods overseas, I would be very happy. I want people all over to know that we have a great agricultural life in our country.

"These are tough times, but I think farming and farmers should be helped more. No water will mean no food. We must be helped so we can keep feeding our country."

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  weather  |  drought  |  natural disasters  |  agriculture

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