Reviving the Vuyeriwani garden

Reviving the Vuyeriwani garden

The Southern Africa Livelihoods Project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Life in the small villages of South Africa’s north-east Limpopo Province can be harsh as communities are remote, water is scarce and unemployment is high.

Agriculture enterprises in the area, like the Vuyeriwani Vegetable Group, have faced many challenges.


Learning from the past

The Vuyeriwani Vegetable Group is located on the edge of Sikhunyani Village, not far from Giyani town.

The group operated a vegetable garden for some time but then in 2015 ran into financial difficulties, specifically in regards to managing their operating costs and saving enough money for new investments.

At one period the group received a large electricity bill they couldn’t afford to pay and subsequently their power was cut off, ceasing their ability to pump water. With no water to use on their farm, the group was unable to grow vegetables and was forced to abandon their farm.

Reviving the Vuyeriwani garden

Introducing SALP

In 2017, the Southern Africa Livelihoods Project (SALP) began working across South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland supporting enterprises to increase and commercialise their agricultural production.

Within South Africa, SALP focused on the Giyani area where a previous World Vision Australia project had been supporting groups, including Vuyeriwani Vegetable Group.

SALP supported the group to overcome the infrastructure hurdles they had earlier faced and invested in a new pump, a drip irrigation system, fenced their land and also built a nursery for the group to grow seedlings.


Mamsi makes a return

Mamsi lives with her husband and elderly mother in Sikhunyani village. Mamsi was one of the most active members of the group and really missed the regular time working alongside the other women in the community.

When SALP began working with the group to revitalise and scale up their vegetable production, Mamsi was one of the first members excited to see their old garden be given a new lease of life.

Soon the members were not just back at work in the garden but also back in their morning routine of walking through the village and collecting each member along the way down to the garden. 

Working thoroughly while talking with other group members, Mamsi is often found leading the daily work, involved in weeding, watering and harvesting the vegetables. 

The hard work has begun to pay off. “There is big difference between this garden and the previous one. In this garden we have very big site where we can plant different type of vegetables. Our community is big and we will be known in the whole villages and other villages," she says. 


First male member joins

As Laurence would come home to Sikhunyani Village after working in Giyani he began to notice how hard the Vuyeriwani Vegetable Group from his community were working to revive their vegetable enterprise.

Laurence’s work of selling hot food along a busy roadside in Giyani earned him little money and it wasn’t long before he decided to approach the group and ask if he could join.

“What made me come and work here is that I realised I do have experience in farming but I don’t have anywhere to do my own farming.” – Laurence Makhubele, Vuyeriwani Vegetable Group

Laurence quickly became a permanent fixture around the garden and was often the first person there in the early mornings.


Partnering with the Department of Agriculture  


SALP partnered with the local Department of Agriculture to ensure the group had access to agricultural expertise, that the department would provide monitoring services and to ensure the group would know who to turn to when the project finished.

SALP’s support for the group has led to the revival of the garden and also diversification into seedling production. Department of Agriculture extension worker Ruth Sithole has been providing regular training for the group in crop management as well as best practices for farming their seedlings.

Working collaboratively with crucial stakeholders like the Department of Agriculture guarantees there are stronger relationships and a greater platform for ensuring sustainability of the group’s efforts after SALP finishes in June 2020.


Looking to the future

Before looking to grow any further, Vuyeriwani Vegetable Group has its sights set on maintaining consistent production from their garden while also finding markets for their thousands of seedlings that are getting close to maturity.

Mamsi knows that while SALP has helped to provide the group with new momentum there is still plenty to be done if they’re going to become a commercial success: “Other areas that we want to learn is around management skills, finance, communication, entrepreneur and networking.”

See more stories of how World Vision is growing livelihoods in Southern Africa.