Spotlight on … Justin Oryema, ABS FM, Uganda

| July 13, 2015

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Justin Boswell Oryema graduated from the Islamic University in Uganda and later Makerere University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and a Diploma in Music, Dance and Drama. He has over 15 years of experience in radio broadcasting. The hard-working and committed broadcaster presents the farmer program, Pur, or “Farming,” on ABS FM.

Mr. Oryema began his career as a part-time radio presenter at Mega FM in Gulu, 350 kilometres north of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. During his time at the station, he became a Senior Program Producer.

He says, “Mass communication is about many people. In Uganda, farming takes over 80 per cent of the activities, [and is] thus the biggest employer.” He is proud to be associated with developing the agricultural sector that has so many people involved in it.

Mr. Oryema worked with FRI during its African Farm Radio Research Initiative, or AFRRI. His input helped his colleague, Grace Amito, win the George Atkinson Communication Award in 2010.

Mr. Oryema attended the broadcasters’ face-to-face training at Kagadi-Kibale Community Radio in 2008 and followed up on what he learned by taking online courses and joining scriptwriting competitions, receiving several prizes.

Mr. Oryema continues to be a creative force in radio by co-founding ABS FM, a community radio in Gulu which has made a name for itself as a local language station. ABS FM broadcasts in Luo and Acholi and targets the rural audience, most of whom are farmers. The station reaches about one-and-a-half million people over its 100-kilometre broadcast range.

Listeners can interact with the station via phone calls, texts, emails, Twitter and Facebook. Some farmers simply walk into the station to offer their opinions, and presenters visit farms to record interviews.

Mr. Oryema also broadcasts FRI’S My Children radio drama on ABS FM. He encourages the audience to discuss the issues raised in the drama on talk shows and in the field. He says, “The lessons in the drama are changing peoples’ lives. Many farmers are [now] involved in growing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Also, fruit trees and bananas are being taken seriously now.”

Mr. Oryema says: “I must say AFRRI has had a huge contribution to me personally. ABS became a[n FRI] partner radio station and receives Farm Radio Resource Packs. I always go to the Farm Radio website and refer to the script archives.”

Mr. Oryema thinks that every radio station in the region should be broadcasting farming programs. He says, “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.”