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South Africa: Female business owner turns to farming to make a living during COVID-19 (Ground Up)

Jane Hozheri used to run a small business with her daughter in Cape Town, South Africa. Together, they made a living by sewing duvet covers and curtains and selling them door-to-door, along with other products.

But when lockdown restrictions were imposed in March 2020, Mrs. Hozheri could no longer make deliveries or collect cash from customers. She closed the business soon after.

Mrs. Hozheri, a Zimbabwean single mother of two, moved to Cape Town in 2015.

She says: “My daughter and I needed to eat, pay rent, and buy toiletries, but with the business gone and all my savings used up, we struggled. It is not easy if you are an immigrant because there is no family support …”

After lockdown restrictions eased in the following months, Mrs. Hozheri was walking in her area and stumbled upon a vacant plot of land. A section of the land, she explains, was rented by a man growing spinach. A few other plots were being used to rear pigs.

Soon after, on that same vacant plot of land, Mrs. Hozheri began “Signature Queen Farm” where she and her daughter grow a variety of vegetables popularly used in Zimbabwean dishes, including covo, rape, and kale.

She explains: “We paid R1,000 ($69 US) monthly for rent. I sold my two sewing machines to buy planks for fencing and seedlings … We then dug a well and used buckets for watering the plants until we saved enough to buy pipes and a sprinkler.”

Three months after starting her farm, Mrs. Hozheri discovered that she was not paying rent to the rightful owner of the lot. She was forced to relocate to a new plot, which had to be cleared of stones before planting.

Mrs. Hozheri works seven days per week watering her crops, pruning, tilling the soil, adding manure, and spraying pesticides. She wants to expand her farm but will need investment and better equipment.

Of her income, Mrs. Hozheri says: “We sell a bundle [of produce] for R10 ($0.69 US) and [do] bulk orders for resale.”

She explains, “We are making more money now because there are few people doing these gardens in the township.”This story is based on an article written by Tariro Washinyira and published by GroundUp on March 24, 2021, titled “Zimbabwean mother and daughter start veggie farm after losing jobs during lockdown.” To read the full story, go to: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/zimbabwean-mother-and-daughter-duo-start-veggie-farm-after-losing-jobs-during-lockdown/ [1]

Photo: Jane Hozheri planting vegetables in Mfuleni, Cape Town after losing their business during the COVID-19 lockdown. Credit: Tariro Washinyira