Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has warned that Nigeria risks the chance of being listed as a beggarly nation, if policies being initiated by governments are not favourable to the agriculture sector.
Babalola said the country stands the risk owing to the warped impression by the youths that farmers belong to the downtrodden rung of the society, due to poor government’s policies to uplifting commercial farming in Nigeria.
He also appealed to the federal government to reestablish the moribund Education Bank and renamed it Education and Entrepreneurial Bank, for undergraduates to have access to loans to fund their education and go into farming after graduation to reduce unemployment, hunger and poverty.
The lawyer said these in ABUAD on Saturday during the 2018 Afe Babalola Agriculture –Expo (ABA-EX) grand finale, where 48 farmers across the 16 local government areas of the state received the sum of N6 million as rewards from Babalola to expand the scope of farming in the state.
At the annual event, Mr. Clement Ogunsakin, from Emure Ekiti, received a cash prize of N1 million as the best farmer of the year in Ekiti.
Addressing the farmers and other stakeholders, Babalola said he emptied his bank accounts after selling off his property to be able to establish ABUAD, in his quest to change the face of education in Nigeria.
He urged the farmers, who received between N50,000 and N1 million as empowerment from the philanthropist, to invest the reward to expand food production in the state.
“It is imperative that we revive agriculture to ensure that Nigeria regains its lost glory in that all-import realm and in the overall interest of the people as any nation that pays little or no attention to agriculture does so at its own peril.”