From Abiola Alo, Ado Ekiti
Legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola SAN, has offered to start buying off farm produce of all Ekiti state based farmers.
This according to him, is a way of encouraging farmers who are faced with the challenges of produce wastages and loss of huge profits as a result of lack of storage facilities and ready market for their produce.
He made the offer at the weekend, during the closing ceremony of this year’s edition of “Afe Babalola Agricultural Exhibition” code named “ABA-EX 2017”, held at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, (ABUAD),
A 73-year old farmer, Alhaji Olayinka who has been in farming practice since 1965 emerged the overall best farmer of the 2017 ABA-EX edition and got the Afe Babalola’s star prize of N1million cash paid to him on the spot.
He emerged overall winner out of about 300 other farmers earlier shortlisted from among leading farmers in all the 16 local government areas of the state, while two farmers each, from the council areas got N150,000 and N100,000 respectively for first and second positions.
The renown Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), who himself is a big- time farmer said he took the decision to see to the welfare and well-being of the farmers in the state so as to revolutionalize farming and make it attractive again, like it used to be before the discovery of oil.
He noted that most Nigerian farmers were usually compelled to sell their farm produce at ridiculous prices out of the fear that such farm produse might lose value or get destroyed as a result of lack of facilities to preserve them.
According to him, investigations had revealed that aside from lack of working capital, storage facilities as well as modern farm implements the major reasons why many farmers suddenly abandon the farm in preference for other lucrative businesses in the urban cities is lack of access to ready market for sale of their produce which he said made them poorer.
.He said it was his belief that when farmers are given a ride for their sweat, they would feel a sigh of relief, and consequently have money to feed their family and also send their children to school.
“As from now, i wish to announce to all farmers in Ekiti. That they are free to bring their farm produce in bulk to us here, as we are ready to by them and pay appropriate prices.
“We have all the facilities in ABUAD Farms to accommodate as well as process whatever volume of both cash and food crops that we have with us, we do not only prepare them for local consumption, we also prepare them for export
“I am always moved to pity when I see hard-working farmers not making commensurable profits on their farms despite toiling day and night to ensure they have good harvest, I do not want this ugly situation to continue”, he said.
Declaring the Exhibition close, the state governor, Ayo Fayose, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola thanked Babalola for his intervention in both the agricultural and education sectors, describing him as the best most critical partner and stakeholder in the running of government.