Case study

DFID Research: Seeding a message for farmers via Kenyan TV viewers

Kenyan TV drama series informs farmers on technique for improving seed germination and crop yields.

Makutano Junction's seed soaking leaflet
Makutano Junction's seed soaking leaflet

Makutano Junction - the DFID-funded, development-focused TV drama series broadcast in several English-speaking African countries - continues to deepen the impact of programmes by engaging TV audiences in new and exciting ways.

In a year-long trial in Kenya, Makutano Junction has been responding to thousands of SMS text messages each month from among the 6 million regular TV viewers requesting follow up information on development issues. Mediae - the programme’s producers - have now developed a database and analysis system that is starting to reveal very tangible impacts of the weekly shows.

For example, in May 2008 an episode of Makutano Junction focused on simple Seed Soaking techniques that accelerate seed germination and improve crop yields.

Viewers who sent text messages after the show received an illustrated leaflet explaining the technique and principles of Seed Soaking in more detail.

Newly-released Google maps coverage for Kenya enabled the plotting of all the request locations and revealed that the distribution of the Seed Soaking leaflets had reached all Kenyan provinces, and all the key agricultural areas.

Follow-up calls in August 2008 to random leaflet-recipients revealed that 57% had already tried Seed Soaking for themselves using the information they had seen on TV and received in the leaflet. 95% of these said they had learned something new. Of the 43% who had not yet tried Seed Soaking, 20% said they were still preparing to do so, 26% said they were waiting for the rains before planting, 40% said they lived in town and were planning to share the information with rural relatives, and only 14% said they were too busy. 94% of the leaflet recipients said they had shared the leaflet information with up to 5 other people.

The original work on Seed Soaking was also funded by DFID, as part of the Plant Sciences Research Programme. Thousands of farmers in Africa as well as South Asia have now benefited from this technique.

More information on Makutano Junction on R4D

See a case study on the DFID website which describes the way the programme developed Kenyan capacity to make sustainable quality low cost TV. Makutano Junction was developed as a result of research conducted for DFID by partners to investigate different ways to spread messages about issues in rural livelihoods in East Africa. See project records for Makutano Junction on R4D here and here.

Published 2 October 2008