Phumelele Thembisile Hlongwane is a 38 year old woman and a mother of 6 from Ezibomvini village near Emmaus, Bergville area. She says her passion stems from agriculture’s ability to enable her to be self-reliant, and in her case the key is diversification of her farming system. She has a vegetable garden in her homestead planted to a wide variety of crops including brassicas, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes and green peppers. She owns the following livestock: 3 cattle, 6 goats, 2 pigs and a flock of indigenous chickens. She also grows field crops such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, drybeans and soy.
”Maka Ndoza”, as she is affectionately known joined the Grain SA CA project in 2014 and is now the community facilitator of her Ezibomvini learning group. She is a member of the village savings and loan association, along with other members of her learning group. Here they save and take small loans for inputs and other livelihood necessities. She is also one of the pioneers of the programme’s local farmer centre model, which she runs jointly with her sister in law Zodwa Zikode, who is also a member of the learning group.
Phumelele mentioned that the primary aim of the farmer centre is
to provide production inputs to farmers in quantities and at prices
they can afford. The farmer centre provides seed, fertilizer and
chemicals, and has really increased the agriculture activity in her
community as farmers are gaining access to small quantities of
inputs, such as 1 kg and even up to entire bags of seed or fertilizer.
“Many people in the village have stopped planting because they
cannot afford inputs.” said Phumelele, stressing the importance of
the farmer centre.