Rockefeller Funds African Reality Makeover Show: It’s Not What You Think

The Rockefeller Foundation is always on the lookout for innovative ways to bolster global food security. One issue the foundation has paid a significant amount of attention to lately, as we wrote in the fall, is post-harvest loss. To reduce such losses, which are the last development you want to see on a hungry continent filled with poor farmers, the foundation has been thinking pretty creatively. 

It's even funding a reality makeover show. Rockefeller recently awarded a $200,000 grant to the Kenyan based multi-media outfit, Mediae Company Limited. The show, called Shamba Shape Up isn’t your typical first-world reality show fodder. Shamba, loosely translated, means field, farm or garden.

Less of a makeover show and more of an educational tool, Shamba Shape Up’s revolving roster of expert hosts travel to different small scale farms across Kenya to teach the farmers and its viewing audience some improved methods in farming. The hosts begin by examining the farm’s current state and helps farmers to implement new, improved methods in such subjects as cattle rearing, improved pest and crop management, financial management, and irrigation, to name just a few. Viewers are also able to text the show to request more information on the topics covered in a particular episode. The hope here is that the farmers requesting the information will implement what they’ve learned on the show on their own farms.

Related: Post-harvest Food Losses Are Still a Big Deal. Which is Why Rockefeller is on the Case

Rockefeller’s grant will go toward the production of episodes on the specific topic of post-harvest loss. Post-harvest losses occur due to any number of reasons, from inadequate storage to animal attacks. It’s a pretty big issue for small-share farmers and often contributes to an income loss of around 15 percent. Reducing post-harvest loss is a big focus of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Waste and Spoilage Initiative.

On a broad scale, Rockefeller’s Food Waste and Spoilage Initiative takes aim at the issues that threaten the overall ability of small-scale farmers to withstand both chronic and sudden climatic and economic shocks and stressors. The foundation is exploring a couple of different ways to foster small-scale farmers' economic security and ensuring that the farmers' natural resources, namely land and water, are used to their full advantage. One such exploratory effort is the development and adoption of better post-harvest management solutions.

Related: Rockefeller Foundation: Grants for Global Development

Mediae joins other recent Rockefeller post-harvest loss grantees, including Deloitte Consulting, South Africa, which received a $736,000 to develop increased strategies and new interventions for preventing post-harvest food loss in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another grantee is PYXERA Global, which received a $300,000 grant to analyze post-harvest food loss in Nigeria.

The foundation estimates that solving the problem of post-harvest loss could have a huge impacts on both farmer income and Africa's food supply, so we're betting that it will stick with this push for a while.