Tag Archives: learning

Shamba Shape Up Celebrates World Environment Day

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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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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.

SHAMBA SHAPE UP TEAM DURING A TV SHOOT ON FARMER ANNE'S SHAMBA. PHOTO: S. QUINN (CIP)

SHAMBA SHAPE UP TEAM DURING A TV SHOOT ON FARMER ANNE’S SHAMBA. PHOTO: S. QUINN (CIP)

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.

BUILDING TERRACES WHILE PLANTING TREES CAN HELP TO STABILISE THE SOIL AND STOP SOIL EROSION FROM FLASH RAINS AND WIND. PHOTO: HANS-PETER LINIGER

BUILDING TERRACES WHILE PLANTING TREES CAN HELP TO STABILISE THE SOIL AND STOP SOIL EROSION FROM FLASH RAINS AND WIND.
PHOTO: HANS-PETER LINIGER

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:

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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:

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

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

Karibu Kwa iShamba!

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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

ICRAF Prize Giving for Shamba Shape Up Competition Winners

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!

The winners discussed the importance of trees on their shambas.

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The winners discussed the importance of trees on their shambas.

The winners discussed the importance of trees on their shambas.

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Creating Shamba Shape Up Leaflets

Ever since the creation of Shamba Shape Up over 4 years ago, we have always had our SMS database, which is used to send out thousands of informational leaflets to fans and farmers who are in need of a little bit of extra help, after the show is over.

The leaflets, which are full of information from the episode as well as other pieces of information that may be of use to the reader, are sent out after each episode completely for free. Instead of spamming our viewers with information, we believe that if people are interested enough to ask for them, then we will provide. The leaflets are 4 pages long, and cover content that has been on the show. The leaflets can be found both online on our website (www.shambashapeup.com) or can be requested via SMS. The SMS system is simple; viewers send an SMS with their name, address & their subject of interest (eg. Lucy’s farm, chickens, cows, IR maize) to 30606. Once we have received their SMS, we post to them the relevant information for free.

Sometimes farmers SMS us asking a question. As a media company with only a limited number of agricultural based staff, we get the help of our sponsors to answer these questions. Each of our sponsors has a log in key to our database and can access it at any point. They can log in and answer questions that we have ‘tagged’ them in. This provides a great link between farmers and our sponsors, often allowing farmers to get the information they need quickly and effectively, while also being completely  personalised.

The leaflets are designed in house by a team of agricultural experts and designers and printed in a nearby printing house. The leaflets are then sorted within the Shamba Shape Up office, with the addresses added and then posted out in the thousands across all of Kenya.

Designing the leaflet can be interesting – deciding what content to add in, how to add content in an easy to understand way and choosing which pictures and diagrams will best aid the words. It is important when writing the leaflets to keep in mind who the audience for the leaflets are – often farmers who find reading English difficult. For this reason, we keep the wording on the leaflets simple, with words no more than five letters long.

In the next series which starts in March 2015, we plan to branch out to Uganda and Tanzania and send out leaflets to these countries. Leaflets so far had only been sent out within Kenya due to postal issues, however we have plans to expand. Leaflets are now being created for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with personalised information for the areas we are posting to. This means we will are now creating many more leaflets, and for the first time in Kiswahili (for Tanzania), to help farmers across East Africa get the information they need.

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