Tag Archives: Kenya

Man Made Milking Machine!

cow tongue

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!

#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.

Shamba Shape Up Hits Kenya’s Radios!

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As the new series kicks off on TV in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, new developments are happening off the screen to, with the start of our brand new radio show!

The show, which runs on Kenyan station Citizen Radio and is in Swahili, is on every week day at 9.30pm for 7 minutes. Each episode is therefore split into 5 parts, playing every night Monday to Friday. The show has been solely sponsored by USAID.

The show follows a similar layout to the TV show, and in many places the audio has simply been lifted from the TV recordings, often with noises and sounds added under the voices to add realism to it – the odd clucking of a chicken or a cow mooing! Shamba Shape Up’s radio program visits a family each week, helping them to shape up their shamba and get more crops, milk, meat and eggs for the family.

The show was chosen to be recorded in Swahili, rather than English, to capture a larger rural audience. These people often do not have access to a more reliable electricity supply or a TV set, and therefore lack vital information to agricultural information. In a country where there is only 1 extension officer for every 1000 Kenyan citizen, getting reliable, up to date and effective information that will benefit your shamba is hard to find.

Radio Citizen has the highest national reach in Kenya, reaching nearly 9 million people each week, far more than any other radio station in the country, of which Kenya has many. When, between 1998 – 2002, the Moi government was constitutionally forced to relax their tight hold over state-led media and open up the airwaves to allow freedom of the media, a whole host of radio stations popped up, making it hard to get a large audience on one single station – it is for this reason that Mediae (the production company), and Shamba Shape Up have been wary of moving onto radio before.

Listeners of the show can still use the vastly popular SMS service run by Shamba Shape Up. Over the past 4 series of the show on TV, hundreds of thousands of SMS have been sent to our short code, 30606, for more information from the show for free.

All the episodes will be available online after broadcast, and can be listened to right here.

Tune in to learn more…

http://www.radiocitizen.co.ke or www.shambashapeup.com/Radio

Shamba Shape Up visits Homa Bay, Kisii & Vihiga for final filming

Shamba Shape Up has been touring Kenya to film the final episodes of the new series, which starts on the 14th March 2015.

The show, which was meant to have been filmed a week ago, had to be put on hold due to a worries about regional election violence in Homa Bay. However, when the troubles never occurred the filming was back on track with the crew heading up last week.

Despite a cholera outbreak close to one of the farms, filming went ahead with some great shots of the shamba being made. One of the shamba’s found (in Kisii) was owned and farmed by a young man, who had recently returned from Nairobi after finishing his degree. Shamba Shape Up loves to see young farmers doing well, and we are always here to provide extra information for them to do better!

Below are some photos of filming, which show the shamba in Kisii we visited.

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