Zimbabwe agri-business, Ms Nomhle Maggie Mliswa known as Norma is an inspirational woman who has done a lot in development of agriculture and impacting various people in her ministry.
Norma is a mother of two namely Yemi (32) and Tafadzwa (25), she is a humble, progressive and a compassionate woman of faith. She has a great passion for working with a wide range of people including children, adults and the challenged.
Her life experiences have enabled her to interface with people through coaching, mentoring, motivational speaking, counseling or interceding. Over the years, she has developed an invaluable tool kit for dealing with complex situations involving human capital in its diverse forms.
Norma is also a managing director for her own farming enterprise “Summerhill Farm”, which deals mainly in maize, soya beans, potatoes crop and wheat. She also does cattle ranching and poultry.
Despite her busy schedule, Norma (NM) had an exclusive interview with My Afrika Magazine human interest columnist, Sympathy Sibanda (SS) to discuss her future prospects.
SS: You have been selected as one of the finalists for the lifetime achievement award category of the 2022 AWIEF awards. That’s a feat. How do you feel about it?
NM: I feel ecstatic, I feel proud, I feel honored. Being recognized for such a prestigious award is in itself a lifetime achievement. It feels great to be representing Zimbabwe.
SS: How did you get into farming?
NM: Most Zimbabwean families are agrarian. One gets the very basic skills from the family and is polished as they grow. Because it had always been in me, when I became an adult, I just continued with the passion.
The only difference was that I was now venturing into commercial farming, whereas before it had been subsistence through seeing our grandparents when we visited them. Farming has always been a part of my life.
SS: Is this an enterprise that every woman can get into and soar the way you have?
NM: Zimbabwe has about 62% of its total population as women. Because men migrate to urban areas in search of other employment opportunities, women stay behind in charge of the agricultural activities at the home. So yes, women are already into this enterprise and they can soar to levels even better than men!
However, there are certain preventative issues which may hinder women to reach their full potential. These include, land ownership rights, access to finance and equipment, gender role balancing and environmental mitigation support systems. I tell you, if these issues are addressed, every woman will soar, as they are already shooting their best.
SS: Tell us your journey as a farmer.
NM: It started from when I became a beneficiary of the Land Reform Program in Zimbabwe in 2007 but my parents have a big yard and we grew up seeing them use the garden at home. Like any other business I had to commit and be dedicated to it.
The need for growth led me into sourcing for other growth opportunities and eventually I switched to a joint venture Smart Partnership which has taught me to understand farming better and take it as a business.
The farm and its farming activities have greatly been diversified, new farming models and approaches have been adopted among them precision farming, which entails that all our farming activities are done within time, hence zero lag and zero waste. The farm is very climate conscious and also uses the 5R Concept- Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Recycle.
SS: They say hardworking rewards but have you ever done everything you could but failed? How did you rise from that experience?
NM: Indeed, success is never an accident. It’s planned and worked for. Hard work rewards. One has to fully engage themselves, their bodies, mind and soul. Hard work means perseverance through difficulties and challenging times. Farming has a lot of risks and one must pull through them to reap rewards. Imagine market fluctuations, weather extremes, theft and vandalism etc. I have faced all that and came out better.
SS: There is a young person looking up to you today, what is your message for them?
NM: Young people are gifted, blessed and loved. They are the future of tomorrow. They have to follow their passion, follow their dreams and establish themselves as forces to reckon with in anything that they wish to pursue. Zimbabwe is a land of opportunities and they must explore them to their fullest potential.
SS: Anything you wish people to know as you vie for this award?
NM: Anyone can be anything for as long as they are determined, focused and plan. I am one such person and am a game changer in the agriculture sector. I am glad that determination is being recognized, that motivates me to even continue aiming for higher levels and targets.
SS: You are inspirational Norma. Any words for AWIEF?
NM: I wish to thank organizers of this event for recognizing and appreciating the efforts of women in agriculture sector. It gives us the urge to continue contributing towards economic development, and food and nutritional security for our countries. Empower a woman you empower a nation. Quote Mahatma Gandhi, “We are the change that we want to to see.”