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The rapid spread of television (TV) channels offers a unique opportunity to disseminate knowledge via private and public information systems to millions of farmers within a short period of time. When agricultural themes and messages are woven into entertaining shows that use popular actors, comedians, and cartoon characters, information reaches out to a much wider audience who might not necessarily be interested in agriculture. Youths are becoming more interested in agriculture through watching reality TV shows that follow the lives of young food producers and stories of farmer ‘superheroes’, making these topics entertaining and at the same time educational, hence the term ‘edutainment’. Edutainment via TV is reaching a widespread audience in the comfort of their homes, creating a passion for farming, and delivering information on vital new technologies to farmers. Edutainment TV shows are aired in several countries (Table 1). All these examples except Farmers Love Safety are produced by private sector players. 

Table 1. Examples of edutainment TV programmes 


About the show 


First Time Farmers 

Chronicles youth who are trying their hand at the family business 

United Kingdom 

Shamba Shape Up

Involves visits to small-scale farmers with experts or other farmers to advise them on how to improve agricultural productivity on their farms – presented by popular Kenyan actors 

Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda 

Seeds of Gold 

Disseminates information on new agricultural technology – production, marketing, and value-addition – to current and potential farmers within and outside the country 


Farmed and Dangerous  

Promotes the importance of food safety and sustainable farming – the Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle has created an original entertainment show that both presents a message and earns income from advertisements placed by other companies 

United States 

Farmers Love Safety 

Promotes sustainable growth in agricultural production and improved rice value chains to provide farmers with better knowledge on production inputs and access to markets 


Hridoye Mati O Manush 

Covers all aspects of agriculture, its problems, possibilities, and ways of improving farmers’ livelihoods 


Philosophy and principles 

Edutainment TV refers to entertaining TV programmes intended primarily for educational purposes. Edutainment TV in agriculture seeks to impact on people’s knowledge and attitudes to help them make informed choices about their agricultural practices; shift norms and attitudes; change farming behaviours; stimulate public discussion and debate about improved practices; link people to services to obtain help and support; impact on the social and political environment; influence and effect policy change; and stimulate social action on particular issues. TV provides a visual aid: by showing improved agricultural practices in familiar settings, the uptake of information is enhanced. 

Key principles of successful edutainment TV are as follows. 

  • Title of the show: must be eye-catching. Audience choices are often based on programme guides that include just the title of the programme, the theme or title of the episode, and at most a very short description. 
  • Content: should be a good balance of education and entertainment. The show should be appealing and engage the target audience. It must have new and exciting ideas. It should also be accurate, precise, and culturally acceptable. 
  • Topics: the message should be integrated with the challenges of farming as well as other non-farm issues relevant to the audience. For example, Shamba Shape Up integrates the use of solar for lighting with information on improved agricultural practices. 
  • Duration: keep it short and simple (KISS) to sustain viewers’ interest. 
  • Delivery: the message should be presented in a simple, entertaining way that appeals and connects with the audience. Use humour. Use popular characters to deliver the message – people love celebrities and are receptive to listening to them. 
  • Audience: know the target audience and their needs. The show must resonate with people’s lives and situations. First Time Farmers in the United Kingdom targets young people, and incorporates hard work with things that youth enjoy. 
  • Scheduling: the show should be aired at a time when the target audience watches TV. 
  • Durability: an ongoing series of shows must be able to sustain viewers’ interest across multiple episodes. 
  • Promotion: rigorous awareness-raising campaigns should be conducted in advance to capture the audience and increase viewership. The promotion of a TV programme should be well planned – first impressions are decisive when people decide if they will watch the show. 
  • Sustainability: a business model should be adopted where companies buy time to advertise their products, to ensure the show’s sustainability. 
  • Interactivity: the show should be combined with other communication technologies to facilitate uptake of the practices it is promoting. For example, it can encourage viewers to send text messages requesting more information using their mobile phones. Incorporating a call centre is also helpful, so that farmers can call in to ask questions. These technologies can also serve as a feedback mechanism for determining viewers’ perceptions both of the show and of the agricultural practices it is promoting. 

Box 1: Shamba Share Up

In Kenya, the Shamba Shape Up reality TV show airs every weekend on a popular local channel. Shamba means ‘farm’ in Swahili, and the show is best thought of as ‘Extreme makeover: farm edition’. The show guides small-scale farmers on how to improve agricultural productivity on their farms. Presented by popular Kenyan actors, it is engaging, entertaining, and yet informative. The Shamba Shape Up team, which visits a different farm in a different area of the country each week, includes the actors, a film crew, and a number of experts from partner organisations who specialise in the topics covered in the episode. The show has become very popular, attracting 11 million viewers around East Africa. During each episode, viewers are given a short code that they can text to the programme makers to ask questions and/or to request a free printed pamphlet on the week’s topics. 


The following key steps should be taken into account to ensure the success of an edutainment TV show. During implementation, it is important that the key principles of good edutainment are followed. 

1. Research and planning

  • Choose the topic, conduct research on it, identify the target audience, and decide on the scale of the project 
  • Develop a budget and schedule 
  • Define the format of the TV production 
  • Raise funds for development, production, implementation, and evaluation 

2. Development

  • Develop the message and storyline 
  • Scout for people and material for filming 
  • Develop educational packages 

3. Production and postproduction

  • Film the content 
  • Edit the episodes (sound, colour, graphics, etc.) 

4. Validation/feedback on postproduction 

5. Broadcasting Promote the show through various means, such as Facebook and TV advertisements 

6. Air the show  

Monitoring and evaluation 

Monitoring is the continuous routine tracking of program activities. Evaluation involves an assessment of the extent to which a program has achieved its intended objectives and how it could be improved. There are four main reasons for undertaking an evaluation. 

  • To gauge the impact your shows haveon your audience. 
  • To understand the strengths and weaknesses of the show, and the promoted agricultural practices, in order to improve next time. 
  • To enable your current and potential funders to see the value of your work. 
  • For accountability towards the audience and funders 

Monitoring and evaluation can be undertaken using quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods include surveys; while qualitative methods may include focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. 

Capacities required 

Creating a successful edutainment TV show requires a dynamic media team that is able to harness the required resources and capacities – directing, researching, production, scriptwriting, and editing. It is important that scriptwriters have an understanding of agriculture and familiarity with the target audience (e.g. smallholder farmers), including their resource constraints and needs. Other capacities required are in campaigning, publicity, fundraising/resource mobilisation, and partnership building. 

note22 fig1

Figure 1. Capacities required to develop a successful edutainment TV show


Costs will vary depending on the scale of the project and services provided, but generally include equipment and procurement of licences; staffing; research, development, filming, and broadcasting; promotion; maintenance of equipment; and monitoring and evaluation. 

Costs of producing a show are relatively high in terms of absolute cost, but low in terms of cost per household reached. For example, engaging Shamba Shape Up to film five six-minute segments costs US$50,000, with an audience of 3.5 million households – only US$0.014 per household.

Strengths and weaknesses 

The major strengths and weaknesses of edutainment TV programmes for agricultural information are shown in Table 2. 

Table 2. Strengths and weaknesses 




  • Wider reach than many extension approaches 
  • Helps improve viewers’ access to information 
  • Appeals to youth and urban dwellers 
  • Entertaining as well as educational 
  • Can have an immediate impact 
  • Can be packaged as DVDs for later viewing 
  • Can be posted on YouTube for wider distribution and use 
  • Can be integrated with mobile phones and call centres for viewers to pose questions, receive responses, and provide timely feedback 
  • Can be edited into short clips enabling closer targeting of farmer’s different needs 



  • High cost per show 
  • Penetration of TV still low in many developing countries 
  • Not interactive 
  • Language limitations – difficult to make programmes in many different languages 

Best-fit considerations 

Target groups 

The approach is appropriate for a wide range of people, including women and youth, and people in urban areas who are rarely in contact with extension services. For example, Shamba Shape Up reaches more women than men (66% female to 34% male). This is important as women are generally excluded from traditional training and workshops. Women are able to view the TV shows directly, which reduces problems associated with inaccurate transfer of knowledge. It allows them to make informed decisions to adopt practices based on the information they receive from the show. It is also particularly useful for attracting the youth to view agriculture as an enterprise worth venturing into. 

It is not, however, appropriate for poor farmers who lack access to TV, or for those who may not understand the language in which the shows are broadcast. One solution is to record shows on DVD or flash drive and show them on projectors in rural areas, to reach viewers with no access to TV. They can also be translated into local languages if funding is available.


Edutainment TV is appropriate for a wide range of agricultural innovations. For example, Shamba Shape Up series 5 (1)
Mediae. 2015. SSU_Series_5_KAP_Report_2015.pdf. Kenya knowledge, attitude and practices survey report. Nairobi: Mediae Company.
 focused on innovations related to dairy practices, soil conservation, poultry, nutrition, financial literacy, planting and husbandry of sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sunflower, maize, rice, and other crops and enterprises. In one of the Hridoye Mati O Manush series, farmers in Bangladesh were introduced to new methods of crop diversification, composite farming, simpler ways of production, transportation, and marketing, in addition to avoiding having to deal with intermediaries. 

Edutainment TV shows can also be integrated with mobile phones and call centres to make them more interactive. Introducing competitions within a show can make it more attractive. A good example is Farmers Love Safety in Thailand, which features two opposing teams of farmers who compete over which group can produce the highest yields and the best quality harvest. Shows can also be uploaded on YouTube and packaged as DVDs for later use.


Edutainment TV shows are not available in many countries. Where they are available, people need to have access to TV services or the internet (assuming that shows are also available online). Research has shown that people in rural settings who do not own a TV often watch in community halls, bars, and other social places, or in friends’ and relatives’ houses. A 2010 study in Tanzania found that 41% of the population watches TV weekly. (8)
Murthey, G. 2011. Tanzanian media environment: current access, potential for growth and strategies for information dissemination. Washington, DC and Nairobi: Intermedia, The AudienceScapes Project.
 A high proportion of viewers are people from urban areas; however, about 38% of the urban population own farms in rural areas and/or may advise and provide inputs to rural relatives who farm. 


Edutainment TV showing agricultural innovations can be implemented by a wide range of actors including the private sector, government, NGOs, and other development practitioners with an interest in educating viewers about improved farming techniques. In edutainment TV, the company or organisation producing the show has overall ownership rights to the show. But to safeguard the show’s credibility, it is important to involve relevant experts to ensure high-quality content. Thus strong and diversified partnerships are essential with research organisations, government departments, universities, and NGOs for capacity building and technical guidance, and with institutions that can offer financial support. The entity managing the show has to ensure all partners’ needs are met and everyone has an equal amount to gain from the partnership.

Evidence of impacts, sustainability, and scalability 

Edutainment TV shows have been demonstrated to have a positive impact in Kenya. An impact assessment by the University of Reading (9)
University of Reading. 2014. Assessing the impacts of Shamba Shape Up. Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, Mediae Ltd and University of Reading.
 found significant uptake of practices featured on Shamba Shape Up (Box 1), and increased incomes for farmers who watched the show. In 2014 it was estimated that the impact of Shamba Shape Up on the dairy sector in East Africa could be valued at US$24 million through increased milk production. The show has also helped to reduce postharvest losses and increase financial literacy. The impact assessment noted that for a new agricultural practice to be adopted, it needs to be viewed on TV between five and eight times. 

Financial sustainability is a major issue in edutainment. Initial establishment costs do need to be externally funded, but at later stages a profit-oriented business model may be developed by having agencies and service providers buy airtime and advertise their products. Farmed and Dangerous earns revenue from advertisements during the show. An effective business model will be scalable, sustainable, and based on clients’ needs – not necessarily true of services offered by donors free of cost. Shamba Shape Up currently earns about half its revenue from organisations funded by donor agencies promoting agricultural practices, and half from commercial companies that gain exposure by demonstrating their products and practices. 

Further reading 

Chachhar, A.R., Hassan, S.H.J., Omar, S.Z. and Soomro, B. 2012. The role of television in dissemination of agriculture information among farmers. Journal of Applied Environmental and Biological Sciences 2 (11): 586–591. 

Nazari, M.R. and Hassan, S.H.J. 2013. Role of broadcast media in the dissemination of agricultural knowledge. Archive des Sciences 65 (3): 45–55. 

Training materials 

CCAFS. 2015. Change for the better. 2015 report. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

Japhet, G. 2013. Edutainment: Using stories and media for social action and behaviour change. Johannesburg, South Africa: Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication.

This paper was produced by the World Agroforestry Centre and Shamba Shape Up with financial support provided by the agencies with the logos below.

This work was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). This publication has not gone through IFPRI’s standard peer-review procedure. The opinions expressed here belong to the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of IFPRI.