64 year-old farmer Hlaleleni B

64 year-old farmer Hlaleleni Buthelezi needs government’s help, but so far nothing

Ok so you may or may not have heard that KZN and the Free State are drought-stricken; what’s worrying is that farmers, like Hlaleleni, aren’t receiving the help they need to keep their heads above… water

64 year-old farmer Hlaleleni B

As a child she collected firewood and helped her parents grow food, as an adult Hlaleleni has turned that love and devotion into a farm that she hopes one day could export produce. That same love, it would appear, has translated into her current farming ethos, as she believes that ‘growing crops is not just a job. It requires passion, love and care’.

“I always worked – be it foraging for wood in the forest or gardening to provide meals for my family. I remember very clearly the cleanliness and freshness of farm life.

“I was always helping out wherever I could. Back then going into the forest was normal to find wood or other natural resources to help me provide for my family.”

“It wasn’t something that I just learnt one day. No one really taught me. It just happened. I watched people and I discovered my own way of doing things.”

The 64 year-old Pietermaritzburg farmer, unfortunately, is one of thousands countrywide suffering the effects of the current drought. According to Buthelezi, her hydroponic farming is taking strain and so far there’s been little help from government.

“We try our best to save as much water as we can. It is vital for us to ensure we get good crops that are high quality.”

“We have fallen on hard times because water is vital to my farm. Life has become harder for me now. This drought has made hydroponic growth very hard and we are not receiving much assistance from the government.”

Hlaleleni’s farm employs more than 20 workers; including young people she’s mentoring to help improve their prospects. On top of that she’s planning on expanding her operation in order to export top quality produce internationally.

“If I can get a major supermarket contract or send our goods overseas, I would be very happy. I want people all over to know that we have a great agricultural life in our country.

“These are tough times, but I think farming and farmers should be helped more. No water will mean no food. We must be helped so we can keep feeding our country.”

What a woman.