By Amanda Jojo
FOOD security is a unanimous concern particularly in the wake of global warming and climate change which are threats to the agricultural sector. The increasing intensity of extreme wealth disasters such as floods and droughts as a result of climate change is having a devastating effect on food security.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) predicts that because of climate change agricultural production which is Zimbabwe’s main livelihood source for nearly three quarters of the population could decrease by up to 30%, which could lead to an increase in hunger and poverty.
The Entrepreneurial Magazine caught up with Nomhle Maggie Mliswa, the managing director at Summerhill Farm in Mhangura, whose farming operations are grounded on tenets of humanity coupled with operating and a corroborated corporate social responsibility (CRS) concept.
Mliswa acknowledges that climate change is truly a grim reality globally. To curb the effects of climate change, she came up with different methods such as precision farming. It is an approach where inputs are utilized in precise amounts to get increased average yields, compared to traditional cultivation techniques.
“Precision farming is our method hence we note and manage site specific soil variability at every point of farming. The same applies with water variability, weather and crop. By so doing we increase production per unit area hence curtail this climate problem,” Mliswa said.
The National Climate Assessment report released in 2018 states that food and forage production will decline, soil and water resources will degrade due to climate change.
In an effort to reduce carbon emissions during her farming operations, Mliswa takes upon zero tolerance for erosion by doing cover crops and contour.
“There is an efficient livestock production that reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions enhancing peat lands and carbon sinks which have been proved to be efficient in reducing carbon emissions. Renewable sources of energy are also used. The farm has a solar system and a bio-digester,” Mliswa said.
Mliswa holds the belief that practicing climate smart agriculture realises more milestones than challenges.
Summerhill farm has an established and efficient Just in Time (JIT) System hence any loss is minimized. JIT is an inventory management method in which goods are received from suppliers only as they are needed.
“The whole chain is described as; right production using the right equipment by the right persons at the right time for the right stage to the right market at the right price for the right profit,” she said.
“Through effective utilization of our JIT system we have managed to minimize waste both in time and resources. Timeous land preparations, planting, harvesting and marketing are effectively conducted at the farm.
“Work has been made easier through use of our smart machinery. Through under precision farming we have a smiling labor throughout the whole productive process.”
The success and implementation of her smart commercial agriculture operations has been deep rooted in strong networks.
“We are so networked and this is a great milestone again right skills and suppliers to our farm this has enabled transfer of skills at the farm and has impacted so many neighboring farming activities,” Mliswa said.
Several other adaptations and mitigation strategies are also practiced at Summerhill, these include water harvesting and storage, the farm has several boreholes for drip irrigation for effective, sustainable and efficient water utilization.
“My future plans regarding the agriculture industry include; continuing the smart way of farming, bring in drones for security reasons as well as real time monitoring of the farm, creating high farm technology hubs and build synergies,” she added.
“Seeing one stop farming centers with everything there from small silos to a modern green grocer to a farm tourism center and center of excellence.”
Mliswa is a humble, progressive and compassionate woman of faith. She possesses great passion in working with people from all walks of life particularly the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised. As a human and social capital development consultant, she has acquired invaluable experience in dealing with complex situations in issues related to human capital and its diverse forms.