Afe Babalola splashes N11.2m on farmers at exhibition

* Seeks govts’ supports for farmers on modern equipment

By John Odunjo

The Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, has doled out N11.2 million to best farmers across the 16 local government areas in the state as part of his contribution to the agricultural sector.

Babalola harped on the need for farmers in the state to familiarise themselves with modern technologies for mass production of farm produce for the sustainability of food security.

The ABUAD founder spoke in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Saturday at the grand finale of the 9th edition of Aare Afe Babalola Agric Expo (now Afe Annual Farmers Exhibition) targeted at reviving interest of the masses, educated folks, the rich, academics and others to invest in agriculture.

He called on Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji and as well the 16 local government authorities in the state to come to farmers’ aid by providing agricultural implements for farmers’ use.

Babalola said, “How many of us can buy these modern equipment? The modern equipment enable rich and highly educated people to engage in large scale modern agriculture, whereas in Nigeria, we continue to use cutlasses and hoes, thereby engaging in small scale farming.

“State governments should assist and advise local councils to purchase agricultural implements for farmers to hire.

“We must put pressure on government to advise Bank of Industry and Bank of Agriculture to assist farmer cooperative societies. The Federal Government should please encourage banks to give soft loans to Agric cooperative societies.

“Farmers must form cooperative societies and use their lands as security to obtain soft loans from Bank of Agriculture. The said cooperative societies can then buy modern agricultural implements which farmers can hire to enable them engage in modern agriculture.”

Giving the breakdown of the cash prizes, each local government in Ekiti State received total sum of N575,000 which was shared among five winners, amounting to N9.2million across the 16 council areas.

Another N2million was presented to the Overall Best Farmer of Year 2023, Abiodun Olasebikan, from Ijero Local Government for his outstanding performance and contribution to the agricultural sector.

Other highlights includes empowerment of 32 youths on entrepreneurial skills, presentation of awards to notable individuals, where the Aare Afe Babalola, was awarded as an “Outstanding Farmer” for his contribution to agrarian and agroforestry farming.

In his goodwill message, the representative of Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO, Abuja, Dr Olagunju Idowu hailed Afe Babalola’s giant strides towards the realisation of social development goals (SDG) 2030.

He lauded the ABUAD founder “for being in the forefront of eradicating hunger in Ekiti State”, adding that the state has been outstanding in the whole Africa for its quest towards the eradication of hunger.

He urged Nigerian youths to invest in agriculture as white collar jobs were no longer common in the country.

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