4 July 2014

South Africa: Meggie Malindi - From Clerk to Farmer

When Meggie Malindi's husband died, she decided she had to act to secure her children's future. So she turned her back on her desk job and is now a successful farmer and small businesswoman.

Meggie Malindi began her widowhood in 2003 when her husband passed on. She was in her late forties. Luckily for her, the late Zwelakhe Malindi left her with a piece of land which he acquired in 1989 to build a house as well as do backyard farming.

Meggie's clerical job at a local mine wasn't enough for her to meet the needs of her family as the sole breadwinner. She was already growing maize and vegetables on her land to feed the family and decided to turn this into a business. She now grows potatoes, chillies, beans, rape, cabbages and onions and sells her produce at the local market in Zuurberkom 40 kilometers (24 miles) south of Johannesburg. "Our farming business is doing well," Meggie told DW. "If I had not started farming I would have not have been able to feed and educate my children."

Government support

To get her started, the 59-year-old received three farming tunnels from the South African government´s small farmers' assistance scheme. The tunnels are greenhouse-like structures that are 30 metres (33 yards) long, 10 metres wide and 3 metres high. She also received two water tanks, a computerized pump and pipes for watering.

Meggie had already gained some knowledge about farming in school, and the trainee workshops she attended later added to her skills.

Meggie´s son Bongani, who is 34, also has big plans for the family faming business. Bongani is thinking of adding animal rearing to their activities and has started constructing a piggery.

His brother Sizwe, 23, is studying for a degree in tourism. He'd like to get more government aid so they can double the number of farming tunnels.

Son Bongani wants to branch out into rearing pigs

Daughter Jabulile was so impressed by the family's farming success that she studied for a degree in biochemistry and botany, specializing in environmental and natural sciences.

Job creation

Other people are also benefiting, as Meggie can now afford to take on extra staff. Peter Gabriel is the farm manager. He maintains the planted crops and vegetables in and outside the tunnels as well as harvesting the produce.

Meggie says that, although she does not yet consider herself a fully-fledged commercial farmer, she is proud of her achievements, not least in bringing up healthy children who have all successfuly completed school and gone on to further education.

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