A Report Commissioned by AECF and Led by University of Reading

Publication Date
October 1, 2014

This 83-page report discusses a study to assess the impact of the Shamba Shape Up (SSU) television edutainment programme on small-scale agriculture in Kenya and to research how the programme influences farmers' activities. Led by the University of Reading (United Kingdom), the evaluation study was commissioned by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) as part of the monitoring and evaluation of their funded development programmes. According to the findings, "Shamba Shape Up has clearly influenced a large number of small-scale (particularly dairy) farming households in the area of Kenya that it targets and the innovation systems within which farmers operate."

Produced by Mediae, the 30-minute SSU programme is broadcast weekly on Citizen Television over 39 weeks throughout the main farm cropping season. The programme covers 6 livestock production issues and 20 crops. In each episode, experts in various farming techniques visit a selected farm (Shamba) where they discuss current issues and problems facing, for example, a host maize or dairy farmer. The experts help identify solutions and opportunities. In addition, potential changes to the farm enterprises are explored through demonstration and explanation. Print and SMS (telephone text messaging) facilities accompany all programmes. (See Related Summaries below for more information).

The assessment and project approach is based on a theory of change that "incorporates key ideas from mass media theory, good practice in extension and advisory services and innovation systems frameworks." According to the report, the show's strength is that it brings multiple experts to a farm household, which would not be possible for most of the show's viewership, and uses a social learning strategy that engages visitors on both informative and emotional levels. "The audience is able, vicariously, to share in the process by which the farm household comes to a decision on the changes to try out on their farm." Farmers are also able to interact with the show through the SMS service, reading brochures and accessing information online, which encourages them to seek out more information and actively pursue activities to improve their own livelihood.

As part of this research, the gross margins for maize and dairy enterprises were estimated on a per farmer basis, including 95% confidence intervals. The difference between "viewer SSU influenced" farmers and "non-viewer non-influenced" farmers' gross margins was used to estimate the net benefit of SSU. To gross up the net benefit to the SSU intended population, each of these estimates was multiplied by an estimate of the number of farmers with a maize crop (and the number of farmers with a dairy enterprise) who watched SSU and made changes. The confidence interval for the "viewer SSU influenced" and the confidence interval for the "non-viewer non-influenced" show the precision of the estimation of gross margins at a 95% confidence level.

The show promotes specific dairy and maize practices that are meant to help farmers improve their operations and yields.

  • Dairy farmers - one finding: "A significantly larger proportion of viewer SSU influenced respondents recorded that milk yields and the length of time their dairy cows lactate had increased since implementing the practices encouraged by SSU when compared to those households not influenced by SSU. Three times the proportion of viewer SSU influenced households had seen an improvement in their milk yields and the length of the lactating-influenced households (18% compared to 6% non-influenced for yield and 14% compared to 3% for viewer non-influenced and 4% for non-viewer non-influenced for lactating period)." The research indicates that, across the intended population, dairy farmers who were "viewer SSU influenced" (27,157 households) benefited by US$24,139,863 when compared to dairy farmers who were "non-viewer non-influenced" (749,245).
  • Maize farmers - one finding: Of the 12 maize-related practices promoted by SSU, "the most popular practices for viewers who are also influenced by SSU are: purchasing maize seed from an agro-dealer/shop (84.1%); weeding maize two times (or more) (80.8%); applying fertiliser at planting (69.4%); intercropping (64.1%); applying top dressing fertiliser (53.5%); and using spacing suggested in best practice advice (48.6%)." SSU demonstrated 13 dairy practices, with the most popular being deworming cows (86.6%); spraying cows for ticks and lice (82.4%); purchasing supplement feeds or salt licks (78.2%); and ensuring cows have enough water all day (61.3%). Across the intended population, maize farmers who were viewer SSU influenced (97,446 households) benefited by US$578,785 when compared to maize farmers who were non-viewer non-influenced (2,151,252 households).

The study found net economic impact that SSU had in the 25 counties sampled amounted to a total of US$24,718,648 in dairy and maize production enterprises. According to organisers, this is significant evidence that the programmes are having an impact on rural livelihoods.

In terms of reach, the evaluation found that, in the intended area for the study, 368,407 (or 12.6%) watch SSU. Communal viewing and discussion of the new growing techniques were found to be common. In the intended area, 428,566 households (14.7%) of households reported that they had made changes to their maize or dairy practices as a result of SSU or had benefited from SSU through increased profit or improved household food situations. The show was found to have positively impacted the margins of both maize and dairy farmers. "Across the target population, maize farmers who had watched and been influenced by SSU (97,446 households) benefited by US$578,785 when compared to maize farmers who had not watched or been influenced by SSU (2,151,252 households)." According to organisers, the programme helped farmers gain knowledge and learn new skills: "Those viewers who reported being influenced by SSU to make changes reported that the programme helped them to learn new things about farming (88%), gave them new ideas (89%) and helped them to make decisions (84%)."

In conclusion, the report notes that the "programme has become an important part of farmers' information and innovation systems, operating as a trusted source of information presented in a format that engages their interest and emotions, encourages discussion and provides opportunity for follow-up and interaction."


Shamba Shape Up website on February 16 2015; and emails from David Campbell and Kate Lloyd Morgan to The Communication Initiative on March 31 2015 and September 10 2015, respectively.