Wheelchair-bound Lydia Nemafhohoni is on a mission to fight poverty and create jobs for people living with disabilities in Vhembe, Limpopo.
Nemafhohoni (45) is the chairperson of a community farming project called Konanani Disabled People Primary Agricultural Co-operative based in the Pile village in Vhembe.
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 dependent 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 a disabilities. They saved an amount of 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 (LDARD) believes that people living with disabilities should not be overlooked.
The department supports people with a disabilities, youth, and women in agriculture, with extension services, mechanisation, and production input.
\Nemafhohoni says that the government has been outstanding in 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.