Towards boosting agriculture in Ekiti state, the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, has rewarded ‘hardworking and outstanding’ farmers across Ekiti State.
The ABUAD founder, who spoke in Ado Ekiti on Saturday, at the grand finale of the 2021 edition of the Annual Afe Babalola Agricultural Expo and UNESCO Youth Empowerment.
He called on the Federal amd State governments to establish special agricultural banks.
Babalola said: “I am appealing to the Federal Government to please establish an Agricultural Bank where farmers can obtain loans at low interest rate with their cooperative societies acting as guarantors”.
Babalola, while making the donation of N13.2m to the benefiting farmers, said the yearly gesture was in fulfillment of his dream, and also part of his contributions to the ongoing efforts to revitalise farming as well as reduce unemployment in the country.
The educationist advised farmers to organise themselves into cooperative societies “to enable them buy farm implements either with their own money contributed by members or borrow from the Bank of Industry.
As part of efforts to prevent agric products from wasting away during harvest season, he said that in view of the ABUAD industrial park with its own Independent Power Plant which supplies regular electricity to university community, the school had “begun work on many factories including pepper, yam, cassava, juice, rice and moringa which will be ready early next year.
“From next year, your farm products will not waste away as we will be buying from you at good prices and even collect from your farm. That will save you transportation costs. I can beat my chest that you and I together have begun agricultural revolution in this country. It was my dream and it has become a reality,” Babalola said.
At the event, Mr Emmanuel Aribasoye from Ado Council, who was declared the overall best farmer in the state for 2021, got N2million, while five best farmers in each of the 16 councils who emerged as first, second third, fourth and fifth positions, got N250,000, N150,000, N100,000, N75,000 and N50,000 respectively.
The Local Organising Committee Chairman and UNESCO Chair in Entrepreneurship Education for Sustainable Development, Prof. Abiodun Ojo, also made a donation of 48 spraying machines to select farmers, saying partnering with ABUAD was to cement the food work Babalola was doing to return agriculture to its old days of glory.
The Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Olugbenga Odesanmi, who stood in for the state government, lauded Babalola’s efforts and promised government’s enabling environment at all times.
While appreciating the gesture, ABUAD Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Prof. Smaranda Olarinde, advised the beneficiaries to invest the money wisely to grow their ventures so they would be able to fend for themselves and also provide employment for others.