When Ntombifikile Ngaleka started planting vegetables in her yard she had no idea that one day she would own a farming business that supplies local shops and school feeding schemes.
Ngaleka (67) is from KwaXolo in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal.
She farms spinach, cabbage, carrots tomatoes, onions sugar beans and bananas. Her business won the title of best substance producer in 2016 during the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture’s Female Entrepreneurs Awards.
Ngaleka said when she started planting vegetables, she wanted to help her family get fresh food but her passion drove her into business. She has also employed two local women to work on her farm.
“I am currently planting my produce on two hectares of land but it is not enough. People want my vegetables because I do not use chemical fertilizers. I use compost from cattle kraals,” she said.
Ngaleka a former teacher said she had a passion for farming while she was still working as a teacher at Gcilima Primary.
“I used to come back from school and go to the fields. I was obsessed with healthy eating. When I reached retirement age all I wanted to do was farm in my spare time.
“I started with spinach, cabbage and beetroot and sold it to the local clinic. Every day I would come back with all my stock sold. This motivated me to plant even more,” she said.
Ngaleka explains that vegetable farming has its challenges.
“Vegetables are not popular with many farmers because the weather needs to be perfect. It must not be too cold or hot,” she said.
Through the profits Ngaleka accumulated from her farming business she bought an additional three hectares of land where she will be planting tea trees.
“I have also found the market where I will supply the special trees. Tea trees make essential oil that heals skin problem such as rash.”
Ngaleka encouraged women to venture into farming especially since it has many benefits.
“You can do it in own yard and expand. The world is full of opportunities for women.”