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By: Katharine MacMahon, Media Manager at Shamba Shape Up

GALVmed has recently partnered again with Shamba Shape Up, the hit reality TV show that discusses the problems facing the farmers of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The show, which is watched by over ten million viewers across East Africa weekly, is based around the rapidly growing rural audience, and aims to give farmers the tools they need to improve productivity and income on their farms. The core of the series tackles issues surrounding livestock, poultry, crops and soil fertility. Other relevant topics such as financial planning, solar power and harvesting rainwater are also included depending on the needs of the farmer in the episode.

With the fifth series set to air on 14th March 2015, Shamba Shape Up viewers are looking forward to a new show with a completely new set up. Unlike the previous series’, which were only filmed in Kenya (although aired in Uganda and Tanzania), the new series will be filmed in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Episodes filmed in Uganda and Tanzania will also be shown in Kenya, making the Kenyan series twenty-three episodes long (plus three re-visits). The Uganda and Tanzania series will be made up of five new episodes and then five re-edited episodes of older content relatable to these countries.

Three new sets of information leaflets will also be created to complement the knowledge provided on the show. In the past, only Kenyan viewers have been able to SMS us asking for a leaflet (all the leaflets are online for everyone online at Shamba Shape Up). Now with the beginning of the new Tanzania and Uganda series,’ farmers from all three countries can text to receive information leaflets. The series five leaflets are bolder, brighter and packed with useful information.

GALVmed works with its partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to provide the Newcastle Disease vaccine to backyard poultry farmers. Newcastle Disease can kill whole chicken flocks in days, spreading quickly between homes, shambas and villages. The vaccine offers an easy solution. Despite this important advancement in chicken health, many farmers do not know how to give it, where to get it or even of its existence. GALVmed and Shamba Shape Up are going to change that!

The Newscastle Disease vaccine is easy to give to the chicken and can be administrated through eye drops or through drinking water. Eye drops are seen as a better solution as it means you can make sure that each of your chickens has received the vaccines.

The vaccine, which is called KukuStar in Uganda, Avivac in Kenya and TEMEVAC in Tanzania is easy to buy in any local agro-dealer. It is thermostable, meaning if the vaccine is unopened, it can be kept for up to 14 days without refrigeration. If it is opened, it will need to be used within an hour of opening. Many other vaccines need to be kept cold, which can be a big challenge for farmers in hot countries as many do not have any electricity to power a fridge or freezer.

GALVmed is also partnering with Shamba Shape Up’s social media. Just because the show is over for the week, doesn’t mean that farmers go quiet! Shamba Shape Up has an active Facebook page, with over 42,000 fans logging in to discuss the episode, ask questions and chat with other local farmers and expert sponsors. Shamba Shape Up’s sponsors, including GALVmed, are tagged in questions that relate to them, allowing them to create their own relationships with the farmers.

Last series, GALVmed focused on the East Coast Fever vaccine, and Shamba Shape Up’s social media was peppered with questions asking how to get the vaccine and how to use it correctly. Shamba Shape Up also has an active Twitter page and a blog where information on the series and from other sponsors is sent and received.

Alongside social media, farmers can send a text to Shamba Shape Up asking for more help and advice. If a general enquiry via text is received, for example on chickens, then the related information will be sent at no cost to the farmer. If a more specific questions is asked, such as “Where do I get the Newcastle Disease vaccine from?” it will be directed towards GALVmed.

Shamba Shape Up recognized the thirst for agricultural information and in response is launching a bespoke product, iShamba, in time for the new series 5. Text “JOIN” to 21606 and you’ll receive a call from one of our agronomy experts to talk to you about your location, what you farm, your farm size and what information you’d find most useful to hear about. You’ll receive weekly market price information, weather forecast, seasonal weather forecast updates, special offers from sponsors and agri-tips in tune with your location’s crop cycle. For example, a farmer may receive a text detailing the pest risk in their area and how best to combat it with details of the best time to plant their maize.

Subscribed farmers are able to SMS the iShamba team with any questions to 21606 and will receive a text response or call back from an expert. Farmers can also call the experts directly, 7 days per week. iShamba is offering a month’s free subscription to the service, after which farmers will be invited to 80 ksh per month (US 87 cents) or 800 KSH per year ($8.75 US). SMS costs 2 KSH (US 2 cents) to send and are free to receive. Calls to the agronomy call centre are charged at local rates.