Shamba Shape Up (SSU) is a locally produced educational TV series that seeks to give small-scale farmers in East Africa the practical tools and knowledge they need to improve productivity and income on their farms ("shambas"). Focused on agricultural development, the series demonstrates that practical and accessible methods and approaches can bring about significant livelihood improvements on small farms, often at very low, or even no, cost. By visiting farms in different regions of Kenya and Uganda, the program addresses real, relevant issues and provides a local context for learning.
SSU is created by Mediae, an organization dedicated to improving the livelihoods of large audiences in Africa through the development of educational, entertaining, and effective media. Mediae coordinates all stages of SSU including, but not limited to, pre-production research, script writing, filming, and broadcasting, show publicity and promotional materials, supplementary educational materials, monitoring tools and evaluation.-
The series is delivered in partnership with 15 organizations (FAO, Technoserve, IFAD, CIP, CCAFS, ASARECA, AATF, AGRA, Coopers-K Brands, Unga Farm Care, Kenchic Ltd, Syngenta, Mea Fertilizers, Galvmed, EABL/EUCORD). The organizations vary from commercial to NGOs, local and international organizations and topic-specific to broader agricultural topics. Partners co-develop the program content, appear in the program, and provide their expertise to viewers after the episode has been broadcast. They also contribute financially.
In support of the TV series, Mediae operates an SMS system, through which the audience can SMS to receive free learning leaflets based on an episode or a particular agricultural topic. In addition, viewers can SMS specific agricultural questions to the Mediae team and partners. Active social media groups have also been established with close to 42,000 members. These members are able to develop peer-to-peer discussion beyond the TV program. An online portal engages learning and interaction beyond the TV series. Episodes are hosted on an online portal called the Africa Knowledge Zone, and it has potential to host other relevant educational material.
Research forms a key component of SSU. Usage is carefully monitored to understand which elements of the program are most useful and which elements raise productivity on farms. This is then used to inform future SSU content and approaches. The most recent research, which was commissioned by AECF and led by University of Reading, was conducted in 2014, the results of which can be found here.
The program is currently broadcast every weekend across Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in both English and Swahili and receives approximately 9 million viewers each week.
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CEI approaches in action
Users require access to a TV (which may be through a neighbor or family if the user doesn’t own a TV). Accompanying printed resources are provided free of charge to farmers. In a recent evaluation, the majority of viewers had an average income of 15,000 KSH or less.
In a given week in Kenya 18 percent of the national TV-watching audience was watching SSU. This equates to more than 5 million adult viewers. In Tanzania, viewing figures are similar, while in Uganda approximated at 1 million and less than half a million are recorded in Rwanda. Post-broadcast research indicates that 46 percent of the audience adopts a new practice as a result of watching the show and 87 percent learns something new.
Active viewers are predicted to be around 100,000 from the number of viewers who have sent an SMS requesting a leaflet since the series began. In addition anywhere between 500 and 2000 SMS will be received by the expert panel each weekend with questions posed by viewers.
A Facebook group of almost 42,000 members continue discussions from the program in an active online community.
SSU was initially broadcast in 2011 as a 13 part pilot series. Following its success it was scaled up and is now in its 4th series. It is shown every weekend on a Saturday in English and Sunday in Swahili. Whilst initially starting in Kenya, interest from partners meant the same series was shown in Uganda. More recently the SSU has extended to Tanzania and Rwanda.
The program was initially only produced in Kenya. In 2013 3 episodes were filmed in Uganda; in 2014 this will increase to 5, with another 5 filmed in Tanzania, to make the program pan-East African. Mediae has been asked to write proposals to expand into Ghana, Malawi and Ethiopia - this would happen over the next three years, seeing a replication of the program in West Africa, Southern Africa, and the Horn. This would effectively create a sub Saharan Africa-wide reach of the program.
Interest has also been seen from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Audience research forms the foundation of SSU. At the end of the series, SSU invites audience feedback through SMS and social media. A questionnaire is sent to viewers (who have approved on SMS and are given a small financial incentive to complete within a given timeframe). Questionnaires evaluate audience attitudes and satisfaction with the program, as well as market research to understand and what other methods of agricultural education appeal to the audience and why. SSU is modified according to audience response.
Alongside this research, Mediae has undertaken studies to evaluate the impact of SSU on farming techniques and production. A KAP (knowledge attitudes and practice of households) study surveyed 850 people in six regions in Kenya both before and after each series. The responses before and after the broadcast were compared to show changes in knowledge about agricultural topics covered in the program and attitudes to them and any changes in farming practices. All respondents were households with TV access. The 2014 study showed 87 percent learning something new and 45 percent adopting a new practice learned on the program. Over 90 percent rate the program as good or very good, and it has become one of the most highly trusted sources of agricultural information.
In 2014, a large-scale survey, commissioned by AECF and led by the University of Reading, interviewed more than 12,000 farmers to estimate the impact of the program. The research indicated that 12.6 percent of the target population households in rural and peri-urban areas watched SSU and that the program improved viewers' knowledge, confidence to try new things, and demand for services. The program's estimated impact on the dairy sector alone is a $24 million increase in milk production.
After the first three months of the program in 2012, 91 percent of viewers questioned said they had learned something new and 36 percent claimed to have changed their farming as a result of Shamba Shape Up. In 2013 89 percent of viewers questioned said they had learned something new, and 46 percent claimed to have changed their farming as a result of Shamba Shape Up. When asked how much income they had made as a result of the changes the average profit was KSH10,770, equivalent to USD128. (See Shamba Shape Up KAP Report attached.)
The largest changes seen are in the maize and dairy sectors; for maize and dairy farmers in the target population who were viewers SSU influenced, the benefit is estimated to be USD24,718,648 (see Reading University report).
In 2014, 87 percent learned something new, and 45 percent made a change. More than 90 percent of these say the change resulted in more food or money for the household. The remainder said it was too soon to tell. None saw a loss.