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.