Tag Archives: SMS

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.

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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

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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