Lights, camera, action: soil takes center stage

2015 is the UN designated International Year of Soils. As such, soil has finally gotten much deserved attention. From the White House to a series of activities across the CGIAR Consortium and now TV, soil is definitely making its well-deserved but long awaited comeback, especially in Africa thanks to Shamba-shape up, Kenya’s popular TV series.

TV helps farmers shape up soils in East Africa.
TV helps farmers shape up soils in East Africa. 
Stephanie Malyon/CIAT.

With more than 10 million viewers across Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, this TV show is a simple yet effective way of ensuring that research results get into the hands of the smallholder farmers who need it. The not-so-secret recipe for success is quite a simple one- take one ‘shamba’ (Swahili for farm), its owner, two enthusiastic presenters, a few experts, put them all together in front of a camera and you have a show that appeals to those whose livelihoods depend on their access to, and quality of land.

As part of our overall campaign for the International Year of Soils, WLE together with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) sponsored five episodes of the current series for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)- a partner which also has the largest team of soil experts across the CGIAR Consortium, to highlight the importance of soil management and showcase practical solutions that can be easily adapted by farmers to not only protect but also improve their soils. Read the full story, first posted on CIAT’s Blog titled Scaling up - TV helps farmer shape up soils in East Africa.

The first of these episodes aired this last Saturday, March 28 and focused on the story of two young farmers, Ruth and Peter who live in Bomet, Western Kenya, and who rely on five acres of land to support themselves, their six children and their livestock.

Note: Shamba Shape Up, produced by Mediae, was first developed in Kenya to take practical agricultural improvements directly to farmers and has now expanded to Uganda and Tanzania.  All five episodes will be available on Youtube after each broadcast.