This farmer left banking behind, but kept her sense of style

 

A work boot settles between two rows of plants in the midday sun, soft earth yielding to its heel. Livhuwani Nemaungani crouches down and wraps her newly-polished indigo nails around the leaves of a spinach plant before pulling it from its bed. With her workforce in her wake, she proceeds down the line to inspect each organism. Running a successful farm is all about the detail.

Much of what Nemaungani knows about growing vegetables has been learnt on the job. Having first worked in the banking sector, she felt the pull of the outdoors and a desire to create jobs for her Vhembe community. So she read all she could online and backed herself to make the most of the 10-hectare plot she owns. She had to, because starting the venture required all of her resources. After surviving the difficult early stages of nurturing a new development, Nemaungani is now able to employ a number of people from the area to maintain the farm, which delivers produce to local markets.

Things are going well, but the strife of being a woman in this industry is constant. “People struggle to accept that I’m a female farmer with my long nails and high heels,” she says. “Running a farm is hard work, but it gives me hope to watch my community flourish.” Nemaungani’s farm in the village of Ramavhoya is an example of how South Africa has become more willing to embrace innovation from whoever puts in the work.