Communications for development

S. Quinn (CIP)
Outcomes & Impacts

TV show helps mobilize East African farmers to adopt climate-smart agriculture

East Africa
Priorities and Policies for CSA

Shamba Shape Up is an East African TV show that helps smallholders ‘make over’ their farms by providing help with recurrent agricultural challenges such as lack of water, pests and diseases, crop production and reaching markets. Using knowledge from CCAFS, CGIAR Centers, and numerous development partners, the show is increasingly presenting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) to East African smallholders—airtime dedicated to CSA is up to 35% of total programme time. The number of average viewers per month is over 9 million, 42% of which (over 5.5 million smallholders in 2014) adopted new practices, boosting Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) by over USD 24 million in the maize and dairy sectors.

Around 11 million people in East Africa view Shamba Shape Up each month. 42% of them have adopted new agricultural practices, which has boosted Kenya’s GDP by over USD 24 million in the maize and dairy sectors.

Shamba Shape Up’s SMS service has received messages from over 70 000 viewers since it began in 2012, with the second and third series generating over 37 000 texts in just 26 weeks. Internet use is also rising—the Facebook site has 20 000 followers and the Africa Knowledge Zone 400 000 hits. So the audience is accessing the programme off air and online, too.

Shamba Shape Up mixes education with entertainment to address the biggest challenges faced by farmers on a daily basis

Shamba Shape Up mixes education with entertainment to address the biggest challenges faced by farmers on a daily basis. V. Atakos (CCAFS)

In a recent episode, the Shamba Shape Up team revisited Cecilia and Philip, a farming couple from Machakos, Kenya who they had helped a while ago. Now, a few months later, viewers were eager to know: did the programme have any lasting effects on the couple's farm?

Machakos can get very dry, and water is a big problem. Frequently, during drought periods, the couple had to walk some distance to collect water. During the make over, the couple learned about water management and together with the presenters, they constructed a small water pan to catch rainwater.

"Farmers don't know much about climate change, they don't know when to plant, or what is happening to their crops. All the farmers we visited have commented on the unreliability of the weather—usually the pattern of the seasons changing and there being too much rain in too short a time, at the wrong time.” Tonny Njuguna, co-presenter on Shamba Shape Up

For Cecilia and Philip, having a nearby water source has really helped their farming activities. The couple mentioned that they use the pan to irrigate the trees, planted during the team's last visit. Philip added that he is planning to look into micro-irrigation, further boosting production.

CGIAR scientists and development partners now proactively engage with Shamba Shape Up. Parent company Mediae is expanding CSA platforms in East Africa by linking to their iShamba mobile, SMS and Internet services. For example, Shamba Shape Up undertook a study for the World Bank to evaluate how to improve risk management in agriculture in Kenya.

So, the edutainment approach combined with innovative agricultural research is a successful combination, with lasting benefits. The challenge now is how to get even more farmers to follow in Cecilia and Philip's footsteps!