Sharing Knowledge, Giving Voice

Justin Boswell Oryema: Serving farmers with Radio 2.0

Justin Boswell Oryema is proud of his 15 years of broadcasting experience, particularly of his work as a farm radio broadcaster. “Mass communication is about many people. In Uganda, farming takes over 80 per cent of the activities, [and is] thus the biggest employer.”
Justin understands the value of using the radio to reach farmers, saying every radio station in the Gulu region should be broadcasting farmer programs. “Radio speaks the language of farmers, whether the presenter is talking about the weather, market prices or transport — it’s all farmers’ language. In a nutshell, our lives revolve around farming.”
Justin currently presents a farmer program called Pur (Farming) on ABS FM, a community radio station he co-founded in Gulu. ABS FM has made a name for itself as a local language station, broadcasting in Luo and Acholi languages, reaching about 1.5 million people over its 100-km broadcast range.
ABS FM makes a great effort to include farmers in their programming, both when planning and on air. Broadcasters interact with listeners via phone calls, texts, emails, Twitter and Facebook, ensuring they understand the information needs of their audience and can include the views of farmers on air. Some listeners simply walk into the station to offer their opinions and presenters frequently visit farms to record interviews.
Justin understands the importance of participatory radio, having long worked with FRI. He was a partner for the three-year African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI), which ended in 2010, and the My Children radio drama, which aired in 2013.
Justin has also benefited from his partnership with FRI, participating in in-station trainings, online courses and script writing competitions offers by FRI. He also frequently uses the resources packages distributed by FRI to 600 broadcasters.
“I must say AFRRI has had a huge contribution to me personally. ABS became [an FRI] partner station and receives Farm Radio Resource Packs. I always go to the Farm Radio website and refer to the script archives.”
Justin is always on the look out for story ideas to entertain and inform his audience so that he can serve the farming community in which he lives.