Tag Archives: CCAFS

Searching For That Evergreen Farm With The Shamba Shape Up Make-Over Team

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.

Trees are vital to a healthy farm. Planting trees can be an excellent way of creating Evergreen Agriculture within your own shamba. Photo: K. Trautmann

Trees are vital to a healthy farm. Planting trees can be an excellent way of creating Evergreen Agriculture within your own shamba. Photo: K. Trautmann

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:



A reality TV show with real impacts on farms

Filming Series 4

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.

CCAFS have measured impact by looking at our Facebook page, our Twitter, this blog, the leaflets and our most recent research which was led by AECF.

To read what CCAFS wrote, please have a look on their blog here or at the more general report here.

Communication for Development Impact: experiences from partnering with an agriculture make-over TV-show



We asked a partner from Series 4 to tell us about their experiences working with Shamba Shape Up. Here CCAFS lets us know their thoughts.

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The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) theme Linking Knowledge with Action (K2A) believes that in order to successfully support smallholders adapting to and mitigating climate change, there’s a need for organisations and research in development programs to embrace innovative approaches to both research design and communication.

The research theme’s own objective is to identify ways to catalyze action from knowledge and research through building an evidence-base of innovative approaches to achieve food security and agricultural development under climate change. These innovative ways can include everything from collaborating with TV and radio channels, or using mobile phones and text-message services to share information and engage with farmers; developing participatory and social learning approaches in research projects; or engage with the private sector and other non-traditional actors to reach key users.

The K2A theme, along with the rest of the CCAFS program, goal is to have thousands to millions of farmers adapt to an increasingly variable climate through adopting climate-smart agriculture practices. One strategy for achieving this ambitious goal has been to partner with the private company Mediae and its hit agriculture makeover TV-show Shamba Shape Up (SSU).

Communicating climate-smart agriculture across East Africa

Through the unique two-year partnership with Mediae, CCAFS and its international agricultural research centre partners, including International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and International Potato Centre (CIP), have been able to share information about climate-smart farm practices, the latest agriculture research results while lending diverse experts showing practical solutions to problems articulated by farmers, during the SSU TV episodes. This has allowed CCAFS and partners to reach many more farmers than otherwise possible (we’re talking millions of farmers here!).

The Shamba Shape Up approach goes beyond training and information sharing and includes up-beat discussions, music and lots of laughter. At the same time, the presenters make sure participating farmers feel comfortable as they place their livelihoods in the hands of the make-over team. This is something CCAFS K2A team has really enjoyed seeing, and believes it is a crucial part to the SSU success.

Farm makeover efforts with impressive results

The results from the work are going beyond the team’s expectations, as the viewers are really taken by the show, and have started to implement what they learn.

To start with, through watching the various recap episodes, it is clear that the farmers receiving a ‘makeover’ are sustaining the improvements, and indeed, even further developing the structures or practices they gained from participating in the show.

For example, Cecilia and Philip, a farm couple from a dry area in Kenya, constructed a water pan together with the SSU presenter duo and received information about tree planting. After the makeover, they are now thinking about adding irrigation to the construction as well as planting more trees, making them more resilient to variable rainfall patterns. Learn more: These are some of the impacts an agriculture TV-show can have.

A 2013 impact evaluation report on the TV-show found that 98% of viewers reported having learned something new, such as techniques in livestock management to practices that improve soil quality. The same study found that 86% of the viewers also incorporated the new practices they learned into their livelihood strategies.

Similarly, when the CCAFS K2A team interviewed smallholders watching the show in Machakos County in Kenya earlier this year, they found that farmers were adopting technologies as diverse as rainwater harvesting, irrigation and agroforestry, which they have learned from watching the TV-show. While making improvements on their own farms, viewers said they are also sharing their new knowledge with neighbouring farmers and community members, further expanding the reach of Shamba Shape Up.

CCAFs is also pulling its weight to promote and scale out the work of SSU through sharing the episodes found on Youtube with local NGO’s in the East Africa region, that in turn show them to their members in convenient venues where people gather regularly, such as community halls and churches.

The program looks forward to continuing to see the results from their partnership with Shamba Shape Up unfold, as more farmers, particularly women, take up climate-smart agriculture practises and techniques over the coming years.

Read and learn more about CCAFS and its collaborations with Shamba Shape Up:

– Communicating behaviour changes: how a Kenyan TV show is changing rural agriculture

– Farm make-over teams on the ground with groundnuts! 

– Searching for that evergreen farm with Shamba Shape Up make-over team

Photo credits: C Schubert (CCAFS)

BOX: What is climate-smart agriculture? Climate-smart agriculture is an integrative approach to address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, through:

  1. sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;
  2. adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and
  3. reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

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