WHEN the women of Motloulela realised the despair caused by unemployment in their village – they decided to do something.

They asked for a piece of land from the traditional authority and within no time they removed rocks and uprooted trees and shrubs with their bare hands and hand tools in their village near Moroke in the Sekhukhune district of Limpopo.

Lita Maripane checks out her portion of land at the Malokela Women’s Project in Motloulela, Sekhukhune in Limpopo. She is part of the Malokela Community Project – a small scale commercial farming entity which was started by 63 women on tribal trust land. The women cultivate plots of land each and sell the produce to households and small business people. Their aim is to grow the project into a successful large scale farm. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

They then sub-divided the two hectare piece of land into little plots where each woman planted her own crops. They applied for a government grant which they used to set up a borehole and irrigation system.

Now they sell their produce to people in Motloulela and surrounds. Vegetable sellers from other parts of Sekhukhune also buy stock from the women.

Paulina Kgwedi harvests morogo which is one of the orders placed by clients. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

With agriculture being one of the biggest contributors to the provincial GDP – the Motloulela Women’s Project has plans to grow into large scale commercial farming.

“We hope government can support us with transport and tools like tractors because we are still using hand tools and this makes it impossible for us to reach the level we want,” said Sabina Phala.

Sabinah Phala takes a call from a client placing an order for vegetables at the Motloulela Women’s Project in Sekhukhune in Limpopo. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

The women started as a group of 63 but the number declined significantly as others sought sources of income elsewhere.

However those who stayed such as Paulina Kgwedi are now reaping the fruits of their labour.

“We are feeding people in our village. We are also feeding our families. Our children no longer go hungry and we are also able to save money. But it’s hard work that requires us to be here every day,” said Kgwedi.

Rosinah Mahlatji prepares the soil to plant butternut ahead of the rainy season. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

Lita Maripane is training her grandchildren Khutjo and Marumo Thobejane about the finer points of farming. They join her after school to help her remove weeds and water their garden. They also sell veggies in the village and make some good pocket money.

Phala says their hope is to access bigger markets which include selling to retail stores around Sekhukhune and Limpopo. However many are unskilled in the fields of marketing and rely solely on their labour to produce the vegetables.

Preparing veggies which are sold for R10 a bundle for delivery Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

The project has done much to change the fortunes of these families in what remains one of the poorest areas in the country. While many lament the growing unemployment numbers, the Motloulela women exclaim proudly – unemployment? What unemployment? But they need help to access bigger markets that would help them become employers and players among the big guns. –Mukurukuru Media

If you know someone who can help the women of Motloulela achieve their goals drop me an e-mail- mukurukurumedia@gmail.com

Lita Maripane celebrates a successful harvest . Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media
Paulina Kgwedi heads to the village to deliver her produce to clients on foot. She says being part of the project has helped her support her family. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media
Veggies ready for delivery. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba

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