All of us have either heard of or seen make-over shows in the US, but “Shamba Shape Up,” a television show in Kenya, provides a different type of make over. Each episode of the show features a farmer who is struggling with his business. The Shamba Shape Up team swoops in and teaches the farmer how to improve his crop yield by planting different crops, installing new irrigation systems etc, often calling in experts to explain and demonstrate the recommended changes.
This article talks about the success of the show since it was first broadcasted in 2007. Mostly funded by the Department of International Development in the UK, Shamba Shape Up also incorporates an interactive aspect. Viewers are encouraged to text or e mail questions to the show, some of which have served as inspirations for entire episodes. Viewers can also text in requests for informational pamphlets and communicate questions on the show’s Facebook page, which is getting more and more traffic as Kenyans start to enter the world of social media.
Although it may seem unlikely that many rural Kenyans would have access to televisions, it appears that the shows audience is quite large. In just one season of the show, 16,000 leaflets were requested and over 22,000 text messages were received. Viewer surveys are also promising. 40 percent responded that they have changed their farming practices after watching the show, and 91 percent responded that they had learned something new. A similar show, Makutano Junction, which focuses on general development issues has 7.2 million viewers in Kenya, the majority of whom live in rural areas.
I think that Shamba Shape Up is an excellent example of a way to combine several types of ICTs in a way that is fun, entertaining, and can help a lot of people.
Here’s a clip of the show where they talk about drip irrigation: