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Why US Vice President visited Panuka Farm in Zambia

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In her two day tide schedule during her visit to Zambia, Vice president Harris Kamala visited a small farm outside Lusaka called PANUKA farm.
Many including us have been wondering as to why the Vice president of the most powerful country in the world had to spare time for this farm and not the big commercial farms around the Zambian capital.
The Chief Executive Officer for PANUKA farm explains why in the must read article below:
Thumbs up Mr Panuka. Innovations at it’s best and congratulations from us at Zambian Eye. We proud of you:
๐—ฃ๐—”๐—ก๐—จ๐—ž๐—” ๐—™๐—”๐—ฅ๐—  ๐—ฃ๐—”๐—ฆ๐—ฆ๐—˜๐—ฆ ๐—œ๐—ง๐—ฆ ๐—š๐—ฅ๐—˜๐—”๐—ง๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—ง ๐—–๐—ข๐—ฅ๐—ฃ๐—ข๐—ฅ๐—”๐—ง๐—˜ ๐—Ÿ๐—œ๐—ง๐— ๐—จ๐—ฆ ๐—ง๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—ง: ๐—›๐—ข๐—ฆ๐—ง๐—œ๐—ก๐—š ๐—ง๐—›๐—˜ ๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—–๐—˜ ๐—ฃ๐—ฅ๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—œ๐——๐—˜๐—ก๐—ง ๐—ข๐—™ ๐—ง๐—›๐—˜ ๐—จ๐—ก๐—œ๐—ง๐—˜๐—— ๐—ฆ๐—ง๐—”๐—ง๐—˜๐—ฆ ๐—ข๐—™ ๐—”๐— ๐—˜๐—ฅ๐—œ๐—–๐—” – ๐—ž๐—”๐— ๐—”๐—Ÿ๐—” ๐——๐—˜๐—ฉ๐—œ ๐—›๐—”๐—ฅ๐—ฅ๐—œ๐—ฆ.
Yesterday, the 1st of April 2023, we passed the greatest litmust test of our corporate existence. We hosted the U.S Vice President Kamala Devi Harris at Panuka Farm. Our CEO, one Mr Panuka welcomed the U.S Vice President and led her through the farm tour and other engagements. She was at the farm for a straight 2 hours (not 10 minutes), which was certainly a lions share of her visit to Zambia.
Much as the visit to Panuka Farm was tagged as a private visit, her visit was part of her schedule for the week-long trip to Africa (Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia). Her focus on this trip was economic development, climate change, food security, and a rising youth population.
The name of the Farm, “๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜‚๐—ธ๐—ฎ,” is a Tonga word that means being clever, innovative, and open to knew ideas. In other Zambian local languages, Panuka means Galamukani (east), Salapuka(north), and Shapuka (west). So the U.S. Vice President basically came to appreciate the “Panuka” concept of the farm. Hope those who have been flooding social media wondering why she visited such a tiny farm and not large commercial farms can appreciate this nuance.
In his other life, our CEO, one Mr Panuka is a practising international environmental finance expert working in the biodiversity conservation and climate change finance space. Panuka Farm is thus his “laboratory” to test and showcase the practical side of what green finance practitioners discuss in air-conditioned boardrooms.
You may be aware that in December 2021, Zambia was selected as eligible for the development of the Second Compact by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States of America Government Agency. The MCC Compact is a grant program that supports investments aimed at reducing poverty through economic growth in select developing countries. In 2018, Zambia completed the implementation of the first Compact that facilitated investments of US $355 million in water, sanitation, and drainage infrastructure in select areas of the city of Lusaka.
MCC and the Zambian Government have since commenced work towards the development of the second Compact. Agriculture and agro processing have been identified as the growth path to Zambiaโ€™s growth, and the following three binding constraints to economic growth and poverty reduction have been prioritised by the Government of Zambia:
1. Agriculture inputs and policies
2. Poor Roads and Transport
3. Low access and reliability of power
And so, in hosting the U.S. Vice President, Panuka Farm was merely being a good corporate ambassador to our motherland, Zambia. Our CEO, Mr Panuka has on two occasions met with the Millenium Challenge Corporation team from Washington DC helping Zambia to prepare for this new Compact. As he took the U.S. Vice President around the farm yesterday, he showcased some of the ideas on how best to structure the programme, and she liked what she saw at our farm. Please follow the link below to see my historical engagements related to the new Millenium Challenge Compact: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=561067742491627&id=100057652171966&mibextid=Nif5oz
The U.S. Vice President ‘s interest in Panuka Farm was thus centred around the farm’s environmental and social footprint ๐Ÿ‘ฃ and seeing how best to design and structure agricultural interventions in the US7Bn funding package she announced. She also wanted to appreciate how to practically climate proof emerging farming enterprises.
To fully appreciate why we were the host as a tiny farming enterprise and not the large farms which some “key board worriers” felt were perhaps more deserving than us, we would implore you to read on two concepts i.e the “๐—™๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ฑ-๐—ช๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ-๐—˜๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐˜†” ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜‚๐˜€ as well as what is called “๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—š ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป” into a farming enterprise. This will help dust off some intellectual “cobwebs” and make the key board worriers fully appreciate why she came to see this little farm. So here are a few insights in relation to these two concepts;
๐Ÿญ. ๐—™๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ฑ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐——๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜‚๐˜€
Zambia is reported to be losing around 300,000 ha of forests per annum, and the leading driver is agriculture. In the quest to increase yield, most farmers have resolved to land extensification by cutting more trees to create new fields. That unfortunately exacerbates deforestation. She was thus interested to see how an emerging farmer can farm commercially in a small space without the need to cut more trees as a proxy to increase yields. We are one of the main suppliers of Shoprite on sweet pepper and english cucumbers , yet our production area for these two crops is barely under 7,000 square metres which is less than a hectare (10,000 sqm). Of course, we have some open field production, but she was particularly interested in the productivity of our greenhouse and shadenet production.
๐Ÿฎ. ๐—ช๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜‚๐˜€
We demonstrated how efficient our water use is from a combination of drip irrigation, the use of gravity, and our ongoing project towards rain water harvesting from the roofs of our greenhouse complex.
๐Ÿฏ. ๐—˜๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐˜† ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜‚๐˜€
We demonstrated that an emerging farming enterprise can be run completely offgrid. We have been running our enterprise 100% on solar since 2017. You may recall that yesterday we had a heavy cloud โ˜๏ธ cover, which offered us an opportunity to show her that solar intermittency is exaggerated. Our irrigation systems remained functional despite the heavy cloud cover that we witnessed yesterday.
๐Ÿฐ. ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—™๐—ผ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜‚๐˜€
We run a 6 months graduate trainee programme where we train fresh graduates from agricultural colleges and universities as part of our corporate social responsibility. The graduates from our second cohort graduated last month in March 2023. 95% of our workforce are also sourced from the surrounding villages. Other than our CEO, the rest of the Panuka management team are youths, and she met and talked to each of them. The Panuka Farm CEO is so proud of the team for the hard work. Glad to proud such kind of exposure to our youth and our employees.
…..
Hope this write-up helps to put into context the U.S. Vice President’s visit to our tiny farm. It is our sincere hope that we were good ambassadors to all.
To our corporate friends, apologies that you were not physically invited to this event. It was tagged as a private event with heavy security. We could not also tell you in advance due to its nature.
Thanks a lot to the U.S. Embassy Zambia for believing in us as a team to host the U.S. Vice President. Such a huge honour. Our collaboration with the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to fix the roads was also a huge milestone that has left an indelible benefit to the local community.
Zambia Police and all other security wings in Zambia were exemplary.
The precision of the White House team, especially the press, was mind-blowing. We will, on another day, talk about lessons on how to prepare for such events and the lessons we got from the event.
This write-up would be incomplete if we didn’t mention how mind-blowing the operations of the Secret Service was. There are no details for obvious reasons, but all we can say is that some staff you watch on movies are not an exaggeration.
The icing on the cake ๐ŸŽ‚ was that Mr Panuka ‘s office was actually designated as her holding room for the various onsite briefings after each activity run. Literally, his office was out of bounds for about 48 hours.
We hope this event helps others to realise that it’s not about size but the quality and uniqueness of what you do that will provide you with an opportunity to dine with global icons.
Thanks a lot also to our corporate brand kingpins and queenpins HotPrints Limited and Clear Advertising Zambia for all the great work in the branding us.
It felt so good to be alive yesterday, thanks to God for the blessing of life, intellect, and tenacity to rise to the big stage without flinching.
Pictures courtesy of Panuka farm.
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