In April 2016, Ugandan farmers called into their favourite program on Radio Simba to complain of an unknown pest that was destroying their maize crops. The host, Mubiru Ali, a beloved broadcaster, teacher and farmer took it upon himself to find out all he could about this pest and prevent further devastation.
“I started asking around from friends both in Uganda and outside Uganda and that’s when one friend of mine in the United States told me it’s the Fall armyworm,” he says. “So I started doing research and I got some photos that I shared with extension workers in the districts where we work.”
The Fall armyworm is native to the Americas and arrived on the African continent in 2016. Initially the Ministry of Agriculture in Uganda held off on distributing information until they conducted further research and approved mechanisms for control and prevention. But Mubiru was committed to helping his farming colleagues and shared as much information as he could.
“It was the outcry of every farmer where Radio Simba reaches,” he says. “So I had to bring out what my farmers need because one of my objectives is providing timely information to the farmers at any given moment.”
Mubiru was one of the first broadcasters to work with Farm Radio International on the Fall armyworm project. Radio Simba and Radio Kitara in Uganda’s Central and Western regions produced shows as part of a 10-week radio campaign that was launched in October 2017. The program helped farmers to identify the Fall armyworm from the African armyworm and other pests in the region, as well as monitor their fields and use biological and chemical pesticides.
Mubiru brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his radio programming. He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in education, he completed a certificate in journalism and mass communication, and he also holds a Master’s degree in education leadership and management. He has been broadcasting for nearly seven years and he has been part of numerous FRI projects including My Children 2, CULTI AF, FAW and R4OSP. Mubiru makes use of Farm Radio resources and he goes well beyond his role as a radio presenter to ensure farmers have a say in what goes on air.
“Twice a month, I have dialogues out in the community. I always go out to the communities and do research about problems they have,” he says. “I plan a community dialogue based on the farming and crops they do. I look at their needs and then I look out for the resource packs to come with to the communities.”
Mubiru also works to change negative perceptions of farming and he encourages more people to get involved in this industry, no matter their level of education.
“Farming can help you generate income and survive while you wait for your monthly salary,” he says. “I get out of the office, I go to the garden. The office shouldn’t limit you from doing agriculture. I want to be an ambassador to people to show them that no matter how much you’ve schooled, you can still get involved in farming.”
He adds that the George Atkins Communication Award inspires him to continue this important work.
“I felt honoured to be the winner this year. It has motivated me to work more with farmers and with Farm Radio. It’s a milestone that I’m actually doing some good work and giving back to the community and the listeners.”
Farm Radio International presents the annual George Atkins Communications Awards to radio broadcasters who excel in providing programs to help small-scale farmers feed their families and increase their incomes. The award is named after the late Dr. George Atkins, founder of Farm Radio International.