A young Qamata village woman who defeated the odds of unemployment and started Palam Trading, has now ventured into the male-dominated industry of food production, creating employment for fellow villagers.
Lusanda Alam, is no newbie in business. She established her business in 2016 when she mainly provided catering services.
However, to grow her business’ brand and footprint, she has since broadened her horizons by providing transport services for a Komani business since last year.
Alam, who was born and bred in Qamata, said she grew up working in her mother’s garden and that is where she learned to grow plants and the importance thereof.
“I am a village girl and just like many others I had the experience of growing vegetables from an early age. My mother no longer works in her garden due to her age and last year I decided to go back to my roots and do what I grew up doing, but turn it into a viable business.”
The business-savvy youth harvested her first produce – butternut – in January, after she had planted on 5 000 square meters of land. She is currently harvesting corn, which she planted in December, but said the drought situation delayed her plans and exposed her to bullying by male figures in the industry.
“When rain was scarce last year, I remember fighting over water with some gentlemen who do the same work as I do, and I felt bullied because that is not how they treat each other. Other men even offer to do things for me that I can do for myself because they think I am unable to. I know what I got myself into. This is not to denigrate assistance from anyone, but women need to be respected and not looked down upon.
“I currently have access to one hectare of land. I divided it into two and planted butternut and corn. The butternut is sold out which is a good sign, indicating there is a demand. My mother, aunt and cousin are helping me sell the corn and I do deliveries in Komani as well.”
The businesswoman employed 10 people before her first harvest, who helped her prepare the soil including ploughing, planting and fertilising. She said the employees would be called again when required.
“More jobs might be available if all goes well. I am working on securing one more hectare of land and my mother will let me use some of her land as well. This means there will be more work and we will plant more vegetables. I want to grow bell peppers because there is only one person who plants them in the area. She usually runs out because of the demand, so I want to close the gap and provide them with what they need. I would also like to plant cabbages.”
Alam said she had faith in her business succeeding because land was being made available for young people in her village.