Each Wednesday night, up to 11 million viewers tune into Makutano Junction, a hit TV series that airs on Citizen Television in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is the most-watched locally produced program in Kenya, but Makutano Junction is not just any soap opera. Africa Lead II, a Feed the Future program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is helping fund production and craft scripts that deliver a much-needed message: agriculture is cool.
Makutano Junction features protagonist Florence returning from the city to her rural village to go into business. She tackles emotional, social, and business challenges common to young agribusiness entrepreneurs—such as fending off peer pressure, overcoming corrupt officials, and acquiring financing—and emerges a believable, fallible character like many of the millions of young viewers we are trying to motivate. She also emerges a winner, a pop symbol for a new brand of youth who might go into agribusiness and whose families and friends are being converted, too.
We promote Makutano Junction through public relations and interactive SMS messaging campaigns that simultaneously provide potential entrepreneurs with agribusiness tips, such as how to manage money. Viewers can watch previous episodes on YouTube and track plot developments on the show’s Facebook page.
Another youth-focused, agriculture-based series, a reality show called Don’t Lose the Plot, is now in production with assistance from Africa Lead, again working with Mediae, the same Nairobi-based company that produces Makutano Junction. Each organization is capitalizing on its respective strengths: Mediae produces award-winning, popular dramatic educational programming that reaches millions of viewers and listeners; Africa Lead creates leadership curricula, trains emerging agriculture leaders, and builds the capacity of agricultural institutions across Africa.