Tag Archives: farming

Man Made Milking Machine!

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While filming on a farm in Limuru, Kenya for another episode of the new series, we came across one of the fastest milkers we had ever seen on our travels! The farmer, who owned over 30 cows and a massive 17,000 chickens, was clearly used to getting a lot of work done in a short amount of time.

Check his skills out in the video below and tell us if you think you could do better!


Belle and her Baby!

Gracchus in his calf pen shortly after being born

Graccus in his calf pen shortly after being born

It is with so much excitement that Shamba Shape Up can announce that Belle, the resident Jersey cow, has had her calf! The boy, who has been named Graccus, was born on Saturday last week, quickly and easily to the first time mother. Belle is a pure bred Jersey cow belonging to series producer Anne Marie. Belle has been featured on the show’s social media sites as a way of connecting with our viewers, farmer to farmer, who are learning as we learn. Belle arrived on Anne Marie’s farm 3 months ago, already pregnant. It was her first pregnancy. We had hoped the calf would be a heifer, who in turn would also provide milk, however the bull calf will still provide Anne Marie with a good sale as a stud bull when he is weaned. It is well known in the dairy world that Jerseys are easy calvers, however no one expected Graccus’ arrival both to be so easy and so quick! He was born 1 week early, and within the space of twenty minutes! Anne Marie left Belle tied to a tree to collect some more water for her. On her return she was surprised to find the calf quietly lying on the ground in front of his mother!

Gracchus and Belle waited patiently for Anne Marie

Graccus and Belle waited patiently for Anne Marie

The calf will stay on Anne Marie’s farm with Belle until he is roughly 8 months old, after which he will be sold. He is already sampling early weaner pellets, and growing fast! Belle will continue to be milked, something she is a little unsure of (definitely not a fan – she broke her milking stall on the first attempt), and in around 3 months’ time, will be served with AI using Jersey bull semen.

Belle will wait until her second heat after the birth to be impregnated again via AI

Belle will wait until her second heat after the birth to be impregnated again via AI

However, until then, we are looking forward to seeing the baby grow and will keep you updated on his progress!

Mea Fertilizer Hits iShamba!

We know that iShamba is loved by farmers, we hear it every day. They appreciate having somewhere to ask those snagging farming questions, and having someone to call when they want advice on building their chicken sheds or how to get more milk from their cow, ​for example.
But now Mea Fertilizer love iShamba too! Recently​ we timed a series of SMS to farmers in areas where it was time to be top-dressing their soil, in conjunction with Mea Fertilizer. ​We let subscribers know the benefits of top-dressing, and then suggested Mea Fertiliser as a good choice.
It was a hit!
In fact we had so many calls from farmers wanting to know more about top-dressing that our call centre crashed for a short period (dont worry, it was up again in no time).
Top dressing is a great way to increase your yield. It helps your crops develop by providing the essential nutrients it needs to grow. This is especially valuable in the rainy season when existing nutrients can be washed away.  This is common in sandy loam soil; Mea 27% CAN is an excellent top dressing fertiliser solution for this.
If you’d like to get in touch with iShamba to discuss how your product could add value to a farmer’s life, contact ishamba@mediae.org.iShamba_04 sG

Shamba Shape Up Celebrates World Environment Day


Today, the 5th June 2015, was World Environment Day. Throughout the show, Shamba Shape Up promotes the importance of looking after the world we live in through good practices.

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!

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Or get involved with Shamba Shape Up and #WorldEnvironmentDay on Facebook by seeing what the staff from the office dreamed for the future.

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Tree Diversity On Farms Can Improve Food Security and Nutrition

Mango trees on a farm in Eastern Kenya

Mango trees on a farm in Eastern Kenya

By Susan Onyango and Daisy Ouya

‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’  – This is the theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity. The theme relates closely to one of the 17 proposed global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be promulgated in New York this September: ‘Ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.’

How can on-farm biodiversity support this SDG?

“When sets of fruit tree species with different harvest times are cultivated on farms, they can provide year-round products for consumption and sale,” says Katja Kehlenbeck of ICRAF. “We were especially looking at ‘fruit tree portfolios’ that can deliver fruits rich in vitamin C and provitamin A all year round,” she adds.

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been working in partnership with Shamba Shape Up, a knowledge-based agricultural reality TV-show, to support thousands of farmers across East Africa build their resilience to a changing climate, while boosting their food security, nutrition, and incomes.

Agroforestry — the purposeful integration of useful trees into farming landscapes—is one of the ‘climate-smart agriculture’ practices that farmers are learning through the partnership. Besides providing harvestable goods like fruits, nuts, timber and fodder, trees on farms build soil health and play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more on how tree diversity can address food and nutritional security:

Avoiding hunger gaps with fruit tree portfolios in Kenya

New report says forests and trees could be major factor in efforts to end global hunger


generates science-based knowledge about the diverse roles that trees play in agricultural landscapes, and to uses this knowledge to advance policies and practices that benefit the poor and the environment.

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: