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Wheelchair-bound farmer creates jobs for locals

Nemafhohoni runs a successful community project

Lydia Nemafhohoni champions farming despite her disability.
Lydia Nemafhohoni champions farming despite her disability.
Image: Vukuzenzele

Wheelchair-bound Lydia Nemafhohoni is on a mission to fight poverty and create jobs for people living with disabilities in Venda.

Nemafhohoni, 45, champions farming despite her disability.

She is the chairperson of a community farming project called Konanani Disabled People Primary Agricultural Co-operative based in the Pile village.

She was not born with a disability, but during her childhood she was diagnosed with polio, which left her wheelchair-bound. Konanani is a successful agriculture project formed in 2004. It produces broiler chickens, seasonal vegetables and fruit. It also has a small grocery shop.

“When I started this project, I wanted to show that people who are living with disabilities can do something great; that we can create jobs and that we can be independent and not depend on grants and handouts,” says Nemafhohoni.

She explains that the project was initially financed through a joint effort by herself and other people living with disabilities. They saved R5,000 and then opened a business account. “We bought seeds, equipment and such. At present, the money we make from sales sustains the business and the store.”

The project has 10 permanent employees, 11 temporary employees and 11 seasonal workers.

The Limpopo department of agriculture and rural development says that people living with disabilities should not be overlooked.

The department supports people with disabilities, youth and women in agriculture, with extension services, mechanisation and production input.

Nemafhohoni says that the government has been helping small-scale farmers in her province. “Government, through its various programmes, has to date provided us with R289,000 in funding, chicken feed and fruit and vegetable seeds.”

She is also part of the People Living with Disability in Agriculture and Rural Development initiative in Vhembe, which provides support and training for members.

“With such support, I can see Konanani growing to be as big as some of our national retailers. We aim to employ more people in the future, and we also would like to create a unique brand for packaging,” she says.

For more information on the People Living with Disability in Agriculture and Rural Development initiative, call 015-294-3000.

This article was originally published in GCIS's Vuk'uzenzele

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