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 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 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
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.