TV show is ‘shaping-up’ Kenya’s farms and rural livelihoods

Shamba Shape-Up is a new reality TV programme in Kenya that visits shambas (Swahili for small farms) across the country and aims to give both farmer and audience the tools they need to improve productivity and income on their farms.

The programme, hosted by African actor Tonny Njuguna and Naomi Kamau, focuses on increasing farmers crop productivity by providing expert advice on livestock, crops, soil fertility and storage. Typically the film crew will spend 4 days with one household, allowing enough time to build any improvement structures and invite the experts in to offer advice.  Experts include veterinarians, soil analysts and specific crop specialists from partnering companies in Kenya.

In the first episode the Shape-Up team visit George Mungai’s farm. George has a variety of problems from low yielding potato crops to a lack of light for his children’s study. Dr Jane Ininda, a Crop Improvement Officer at AGRA, visits the farm and suggests that George changes the seeds he uses to adapt to the increasing amount of drought in the area. The seeds Dr. Ininda gives George offer a much shorter maturing time, enabling George to access the food in five months instead of seven.

The farm is then ‘shaped up’ by providing George with fertilisers and improved storage facilities which help decrease crop waste and enhance food production. George’s family is also provided with solar powered lights. As Paul Njuguna,  Brand Manager of D.light explains:

For reading, ordinary kerosene lamps are not bright enough. Their eyes will deteriorate in the long term and they will tire very quickly

But the helpful tips don’t just benefit George and his family, throughout the programme viewers are encouraged to access all the information and advice via text message – an innovative method of educating Smallholder farmers across Kenya.

David Campbell, the show’s creator and director, comments on the shows innovative approach to informing farmers:

We have a potential 5.6 million rural audience but there is no agricultural information on TV. We want to establish a series that gives farmers information in an educational and entertaining way.

The show partners with many of the global leaders on effective and sustainable farming such as AGRA, Syngenta and IFDC. These organisations are often desperate to spread the simple advice that could increase agricultural yields and Shamba Shape-Up offers them an ideal platform to reach their intended audience in an informative, yet entertaining, manner.

From the show’s viewing figures it is evident that this entertaining programme is an effective way of reaching Africa’s Smallholder farmers. Shamba Shape Up’s estimated audience in the first series was around 7 million, with this number rising to 11 million by the end of series 3. As the show’s organisers explain:

If even just 10% of the viewers of series one adopt new practices as a result of the show, that’s 700,000 farmers who’s sustainable livelihoods have become more informed and productive.

All the episodes can be viewed online: http://www.shambashapeup.com/all-episodes

For more information about the show visit: http://www.shambashapeup.com/

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