Tag Archives: information

Partners Meeting


Last week, Shamba Shape Up held a meeting with all our partn​ers for Series 5 and​ Series 6 to learn a bit more about the show, the behind the scenes work that goes into it, and take ​a tentative look at the results from the series aired so far.

The day, which had several of our biggest partners present, was a huge success, with partners learning that there is so much more to Shamba Shape Up than just the show!


Anne Marie, the S​eries P​roducer, shared​ details about the show’s audience ​reach​, ​which has stayed fairly steady, despite the change over from analogue to digital in Kenya​, and which for the first time extends into Tanzania and Uganda​, alongside the audience demographics, participation, how ​the SMS database works​ and the show’s large social media following.

Anne Marie’s presentation is available here.

After, Rachel and Ann came up to discuss our newest service, iShamba. iShamba. A mobile information service for farmers.​ With hundreds of ​new-subscribers every week, Rachel let partners know some of the opportunities for their further involvement. She touched specifically on Mea Fertiliser’s success, which you can read about in last week’s blog post here.


After the presentations were over, partners were invited to meet with the staff who create the show, and work behind the scenes.

Tables were set up with the show’s editors who explained​ the process of how the film shot on location is taken and then ​edited down to make an episode. Mark, our graphic designer was also on hand to explain how pictures are added to the film to make information easier to understand.


Serro, the Head of Sound and Radio, was also available to explain how popular the new Shamba Shape Up ​radio show has been, and how it is being reached by listeners across the whole of Kenya. It airs in Swahili on Citizen Radio at 9.30pm each week day and you can listen to archive recordings here.

SMS Service Manager, Mary, and Communications Officer, Katharine, worked together to show partners how the SMS service works and how best to use it to disseminate information to interested farmers. The SMS service was in particular demand as partners learnt how best they can reach farmers with the leaflet system. Katharine explained how the leaflets are made and how information can be given by partners to be added to the leaflets.

Katharine also explained the popularity of the show on social media – the Facebook page being one of the more popular agricultural pages in the region with over 45,000 likes. Partners were also interested to learn how Shamba Shape Up is on Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn and, of course, our blog here.

The meeting ended in lunch, where partners got to discuss their segments within the show, as well as chat to other members of staff. Partners also were given the chance to practise playing ‘expert’ by taking to the front of the camera with the presenters and try their hand at being an expert on the show – something some took to more readily than others!​

The meeting ended in lunch, where partners had the opportunity to discuss their segments within the show, as well as chat to other members of staff.



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:


Creating A Flying Garden!

On the Shamba Shape Up Facebook page this week, we put up a post for those budding farmers amongst us who are desperate to grow, but don’t feel they have enough space to do it! How wrong they are…!

Do you live on a smaller shamba or in a town but still want to grow healthy and nutritious food for your family? Why not try growing your vegetables in a flying garden.

To make a flying garden, you need 4 posts, a polythene bag, tin and ballast (kokoto).

To make a flying garden:

1. Drive 4 wooden stakes into the ground in a 2-foot square shape
2. Wrap the polythene bag around the 4 stakes to make a skin or put a plastic bag between the stakes
3. Put a hollow tin in the middle of the bag on the ground
4. Mix manure and the topsoil and put between the tin and the polythene. Leave the inside tin completely empty.
6. Once you reach the top of the inside tin, remove it and fill hole with ballast/kokoto
7. Repeat this process until the whole polythene bag is filled with ballast tunnel in the middle
8. Make holes the size of 5 KSH coin inside the bag wall leaving 15 cm between each hole
9. Inside the holes you have made plant sukuma wiki/spinach seedlings and firm around the base
10. Pour water down the ballast tunnel- you need 20 liters (1 jerry can) of water every 2 days.

Day 1:

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Day 21:

flying garden 2

To learn more about making flying gardens, watch one of our episodes here.

And a big thanks to iShamba for all this great information!

#TalkSoil TweetChat Success!

On the 13th April 2015, Shamba Shape Up joined forces with CIAT, plus a whole host of experts (Syngenta, Soil Cares, One Acre Fund and YPARD) to discuss the problems African farmers are facing due to poor soil.

The International Year of Soils 2015 is helping to mobilise much-needed interest and action in global efforts to protect soils, a finite resource on which our lives depend.

But it is small scale farmers who suffer the effects of land degradation and poor soil health the most – and, as guardians of 80% of the world’s farmland, it is they who are most in need of affordable and practical solutions to protect their soil.

It was in light of this that CIAT and Shamba Shape Up teamed up to host a 1 hour Twitter Q&A on the theme of “Helping Farmers Build Healthier Soils”.

The chat attracted interest world-wide and lead to a lively and interactive discussion between experts and farmers. Many of the questions focused around how to solve the problems farmers were facing now, rather than looking to the future; a sign of how desperate the situation has already become.

Some in-depth research into the chat by CIAT led to some amazing results. With a reach of over 300,000 accounts, and an exposure of 3 million impressions the chat reached a huge number of people, many of whom may never have known about soil degradation and its effects.

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As well as this, the chat was made up of near 1,000 tweets from 186 contributors, all of whom gave interesting insights and ideas into how the future of soil can be changed.

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Shamba Shape Up benefitted particularly from the presence of many farmers who had heard about the chat via Facebook. They asked innovative questions; many of whom were keen to know how they could do a soil test, which was a topic on the most recent Shamba Shape Up episode.

The chat gave all of us something to think about for the future, especially as many of the organisations involved head to Berlin for International Soil Week 2015 conferences. We are so grateful to everyone that got involved and had the chance to #TalkSoil with us, and we thank you for your involvement.

Karibu Kwa iShamba!

ishamba advert

Kenyans love their mobile phones. We also know that farmers love Shamba Shape Up and often want more information after the programme has aired….so introducing iShamba, a mobile agriculture product designed to support farmers across Kenya.

By SMS-ing ‘JOIN’ to 21606  (Kenya only) a farmer will be subscribed to the service (they get a month free to see if they like it!). An active membership means they can call the call centre on 0711082606 or SMS any farming question to 21606 and one of our agricultural or veterinarian experts will respond. In addition we send them weather forecasts, market prices and tips on how to get the most from their farm, local to their region and in tune with their crop calendar.

We’ve been live for about 2 weeks now, and it has been really interesting to see how farmers use the service. For example, SMS is much more popular than phone call! And we’ve noticed that once a farmer receives a response from us they start to send more SMS questions in a full stream – every question they’ve ever wanted to know about dairy cattle, for example! See below for more from our iShamba Vet, Dr Olewe:

This week a farmer in Turbo sought to know how many times he is supposed to spray his cow to control ticks, the best acaricide to use, after how long should he be deworming his cow. After giving birth how long should he wait to inseminate or service his cow for next in calf. How many years should he keep dairy cow…. I got a chance to speak to him to talk through his queries. I advised to spray weekly, noting that this varies with the production system in use and we discussed good management practices so the farmer will be able to serve the heifer between 15-18 months.

Now that the rains are here we’re expecting more calls around mastitis and pneumonia in particular. I’m looking forward to helping farmers on a larger scale than I was able to in the field.

If you’d like to learn more about iShamba go to our facebook / twitter / website or watch this promo video.