By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Famed advertising guru and entertainment entrepreneur, Mr. Steve Babaeko and his celebrity photographer wife, Mrs. Yetunde Babaeko, MD/CEO of Camara Studios have entered the agriculture sector with the usual boldness and great impact associated with all their investments.
The new baby, which the Babaekos have been nursing for some time was unveiled during the last Yuletide, as people from various walks of life gathered for the official commissioning of Babaeko Farms Limited (BFL) in Kogi State.
Notable among the dignitaries who graced the occasion were His Royal Majesty, the Obaro of Kabba, Oba Otitoleke Oweyomade, chairman of Okun Traditional Council and Secretary, Kogi State Traditional Council, the Oba of Kakun, the Oba of Odobata and many other royal chiefs in Okun land. The programme tagged ‘A Morning Time with Children,’ was themed ‘Preparing the Next Generation for Food sufficiency and Eradication of Malnutrition in Children.’
Babaeko Farms has been described as a right step, especially now that the Federal Government of Nigeria is paying attention to food security.
His Royal Majesty, Oba Oweyomade, on his part, urged all sons and daughters of the land to use the economic potentials and opportunities in Owe land to create job opportunities for youths and foster economic development. He also urged Owe sons and daughters both at home and in the diaspora to invest in the community.
In his remarks, Babaeko thanked the Obaro of Kabba, other royal fathers in attendance, the representative of the Provost College of Education Kabba, the UBA Manager and his team for being part of the remarkable epoch, especially at this time when many children are subjected to acute malnutrition. He stated the vision of Babaeko Farms; thus: To advance agricultural business in Nigeria beyond hoes and cutlasses. He added that the farm not only adopts the Israel model of irrigation but also uses drones to monitor the progress of farming activities in the large hectares of farmland. According to Mr. Sheyi Babaeko, General Manager of BFL, one of the disturbing statistics that fired the ambition of the Founder of BFL is the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) revelation that 37 percent of children aged 6 and 59 months in the country are stunted. Sixty-eight percent of children aged 6 and 59 months and 58 percent of women aged 15-49 were found to be anaemic, while 12 percent of women aged 15 and 49 years are thin. There is no gainsaying the fact that investing in the agricultural sector at this point in time could help turn around these grim statistics.
The Agricultural Project Manager, Prince Ade Ajayi disclosed that projects on Babaeko Farms would include fish farming, piggery, and animal husbandry.
“I thank our founder, Mr. Steve Babaeko for donating hundreds of school bags and writing materials to over 100 school children in Kakun Community. I also appreciate Mrs. Yetunde Babaeko for her immense contribution in making the event a huge success with Mr. Akin Alabi, Prince Ade Ajayi and Shola Fashola of Corporate Farmers for the huge success of the programme,” he said.
Speaking further, he commended the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Alhaji Aliko Dangote Foundation for the progress made so far towards the 2020 projection for the nation to attain 90 percent in fortified food compliance. He concluded by appealing to all stakeholders in Nigeria and the entire African continent to join hands to eradicate malnutrition in children.