In the words of the United Nations Environment Programme, the organisation who has been the driving force behind the initiative to bringing the environment to the fore-front of our news, World Environment Day has ‘grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.’
This year’s theme is ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.’ It aims to encompass ‘the well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources.’
Looking after the world can happen in more than just one way – reduce, recycle, reuse, respect is a great mantra to live by and one that Shamba Shape Up aims to promote via the medium of TV, radio, leaflets and our mobile information service iShamba to our audience of over 10 million people across East Africa.
During Series 5, which is currently on TV, we have focused on the importance of having healthy soil by using compost to enrich the soil for better growth, as well as ways to stop the negative effects of soil erosion and land degradation.
In the next series, we hope to discuss many issues surrounding environmental degradation such as the global loss of the honey bee and human-wildlife conflict.
Learn more about World Environment Day here and how to get involved with making your day one about the environment!
And why not add your Tweet about what your dream is for a better world – don’t forget to use the hashtag #7Billion dreams! Shamba Shape Up has already done theirs!
Or get involved with Shamba Shape Up and #WorldEnvironmentDay on Facebook by seeing what the staff from the office dreamed for the future.
This blog post is a cross-post from CCAFS/CGIAR from series 4, April 2014. It links to a recent discussion on the Shamba Shape Up Facebook page about the importance of planting trees during the rainy season to stop the dangerous and debilitating effects of soil erosion.
This week’s instalment of Kenya’s agriculture TV show Shamba Shape Up is set in Embu County, where the hosts, farmers and experts from the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute discussed the importance evergreen farming.
Evergreen, or conservation farming, is a method that has been used in Kenya for generations and is particularly prolific in areas which are very arid. It is the integration of appropriate trees into food crop systems, and is fast emerging in Africa and South Asia, as an approach to increasing smallholder productivity under a more variable climate, and at low marginal costs to smallholder farm families.
The show, which is aired both in English and Swahili on the weekend, has the support of many CGIAR research programs and centres. Programs such as the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and International Potato Centre (CIP) provide an important source of research and information for SSU, and to the 10 million viewers who tune in each week.
What Can Trees Do For Farmers?
Planting trees can be an excellent way of creating Evergreen Agriculture within your own shamba. Trees are vital to a healthy farm, yet not enough people see them as a successful method of income, preferring to focus on the more usual crops, such as wheat and maize.
It is important on a farm to build terraces, which helps to stabilise the soil and stop the devastating effects of soil erosion from the flash rains and wind. Planting trees within the terraces gives more stability as the roots of these trees bury down into the soil and hold it in place. The loss of valuable top soil from erosion is a huge problem facing famers all over Africa.
High value trees such as Calliandra, which are planted in the episode, are not only great for preventing soil erosion, for rejuvenating the soil with its nitrogen fixing content and for providing shade, firewood and timber but they also can be given to animals for fodder. 4kg of fresh Calliandra is said to be the same as 1kg of dried feed – and its much cheaper too!
By planting a variety of crops in the shamba, Swahili for ‘farm’, farmers can make sure that even if the rains cannot be depended on as much as in the past, some, or most, of the crops planted will flourish. By using crop rotation and intercropping, farmers can create a diverse farm. A diverse farm not only means a larger variety of crops for sale, but also takes the pressure off one crop which has the potential to fail.
Watch the episode:
Last month, Shamba Shape Up held a competition in conjunction with ICRAF to get more farmers involved in understanding the importance of trees on their farms.
Often, farmers cut down trees on purpose to create more space for growing on their shamba. In their eyes, more space = more money. However, cutting down trees can lead to detrimental effects, even leading to a loss rather than a gain. Trees can provide shade for plants and grass when the weather is hot, can provide health to the soil by nitrogen fixing, holding soil in place and stopping erosion, make fodder for animals, and provide long term money in the form of wood for timber.
In light of this, Shamba Shape Up and ICRAF came together to hold a competition on the Shamba Shape Up 43,000 strong Facebook page to ask them ‘Trees are important on my shamba because….’
We had over 120 responses, from all over the East Africa region, weighing in with why they thought trees were crucial to their shamba. In the end, we chose a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, Lucy, Esther and Maryann, and invited them to join ICRAF at their Nairobi nursery to collect their prize.
The winners were excited to have been invited and told us a little more about themselves, including who they were, where they lived and where their shamba was located. Each winner chose a sapling and seed they would be interested in, after help discussing with ICRAF what would suit their needs and area.
The winners were then presented with a beautiful goodie bag which had different species of seeds, a book on how to start and manage a tree nursery, a notebook and pen, an ICRAF calendar and seedlings of their choice.
Congratulations to all at ICRAF for making it such a great event and to all the Shamba Shape Up farmers who entered!
Hortinews Kenya has recently written about Shamba Shape Up and its involvement in agriculture in Kenya. The article focuses around our involvement with orange fleshed sweet potatoes through our previous sponsor CIP.
CIP, who came onto the show with us for series 4, have been spreading the word about OFSP across East Africa by letting farmers and families know about the health benefits of the vegetable; only a small amount of OFSP each day can help reach the total vitamin A needed. This is especially useful for children and old people – many children suffer from a lack of vitamin A which can stunt their grown and harm their eyesight.
CIP’s involvement with the show meant that many more farmers in the region were able to learn about the new variety and were able to contact them with questions and advice.
The article provides an interesting insight into OFSP growing in the area, with a focus on Shamba Shape Up from Page 20.
CCAFS have written a report highlighting the work Shamba Shape Up does and the results we are getting. For CCAFS, it’s an ideal opportunity to scale up communication and turn knowledge into action. Scientists involved in climate-smart agriculture research across CGIAR help develop the show’s content and are regularly featured in episodes.
Recently, David Campbell, Company Director of The Mediae Company (and producers of Shamba Shape Up) spoke at the TEDxNairobi discussion held on Food, Waste, Agriculture and Climate Change. Watch the below video to listen to David speak about Shamba Shape Up, and how it grew from humble beginnings to one of the Kenya’s biggest TV successes.
If you enjoyed the video, or felt you learnt more about the show, then please share with others who may be interested in it.