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Farmer sees losing eye as blessing

Farmer Mphedziseni Selina Mulovhedzi was recently awarded the Ministerial Special Award in the category of Disabled Female Entrepreneur 2018 by the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Farmer Mphedziseni Selina Mulovhedzi was recently awarded the Ministerial Special Award in the category of Disabled Female Entrepreneur 2018 by the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Image: Lucas Ledwaba/ Mukurukuru Media

A freak accident in her childhood left Mphedziseni Selina Mulovhedzi blind in one eye, but this has not stopped her from becoming one of South Africa's most successful small-scale farmers.

Mulovhedzi, 71, was recently awarded the Ministerial Special Award in the category of Disabled Female Entrepreneur 2018 by the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries for the good work she is doing in her community under her business Nyadzanga Nursery and General Trade.

Mulovhedzi started the nursery in 2007 using her plot in Vondwe, using her bare hands to clear a thicket. She now produces vegetables like cabbage, onion, tomato, green pepper and beetroot.

She sells her produce to a community around her home near Thohoyandou, as well as to schools and social groups.

Although she has emerged as both provincial and national winner in her category, Mulovhedzi said the operation is not without challenges.

"During winter some crops are not adaptable to the cold and that makes it difficult in terms of maintenance," she explained.

"Insects also destroy the plants now and again, so it is my responsibility along with the workers to spray the plants with insecticide so that work [to produce] can continue. Her wish is to grow her business even further.

"I also wish to get more funds so that I can extend the nursery into a bigger operation," she said.

"This plot that I am using is very small and it does not satisfy me. I wish it could be extended so that I can create more jobs to alleviate poverty."

Mulovhedzi said she was proud to provide jobs in an area afflicted by lack of economic opportunities.

"I get to employ women from the community and pay them so that they can sustain their families."

Among the 13 employees is Ntshavheni Veronica Mauda, 42, also from Vondwe. She started working at the nursery after failing to complete her human resource management studies due to lack of funds.

"My life has changed for the better ever since I started working here because I am able to have my own money instead of being dependent on others," she said.

Mother of two Azwitamisi Lillian Makungo from Ha-Makhuvha village said she used to work as a volunteer cook at an orphanage before joining the nursery. Her wish is to open her own nursery one day.

"In the next five years, I would like to see myself opening my own nursery using the skills that I would have acquired from working here," she said.

Losing her right eye when she was still a young girl in Standard 3 (Grade 5) did not stop Mulovhedzi from becoming an entrepreneur.

She relied on her one good eye, the left, to surge ahead in life. In fact, she sees her childhood misfortune as a blessing in disguise.

"I am thankful that even though I see with one eye, I am still able to continue working; my disability does not disturb me in any way, it only encourages me to work harder."

Without being specific about her detractors, she added: "People who refuse to give us more land hurt me a lot."

Mulovhedzi encouraged people living with disabilities not to see their situations as a curse but a different life challenge. - Mukurukuru Media

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