Afe Babalola Emerges African Man Of The Year In Food Security, Counsels FG On Lifting Sector—Renown farmer, Chief Afe Babalola, has beaten nine other nominees across Sub- Saharan Africa to emerge the 2024 African man of the Year in food security, the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports.
The conferment of the award on the nonegarian legal icon and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD),was by the Global Food Security Committee of the Initiative For Green Sustainability.
The Award Committee Lead, Tim Grunguis, and Country Director, Caleb Osasona, who signed the letter, said Babalola defeated nine other leading African farmer nominees from Bostwana, Malawi, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Cameroon, Rwanda, Zambia and Liberia.
Briefing journalists at a news conference, on Thursday in Ado-Ekiti, Babalola, reputed to be one of the leading farmers in Nigeria, and the largest single farmer in his home State, Ekiti, and second largest employer of labour after the state government, said he was elated by the conferment of the award.
He said the award would spur him to do more in his singular efforts, aimed at returning agriculture to its rightful place, and lift it to the expected destination of competitive revenue earner.
The letter explained that the choice of Babalola was based on his many radical revolutions in agriculture and include ABUAD Bio-Diversified Farms, and granting of millions of Naira under the Afe Babalola Annual Agricultural Grants to hundreds of farmers.
Others are ABUAD Talent Discovery Center, ABUAD Planetarium, ABUAD Industrial Pack that houses over 132 Farm Industries and ABUAD FM Radio among several others.
” As part of my resolve to encourage agriculture among Nigerians, especially youths, I reduced school fees of students in my university studying agriculture by 50 per cent.
“In addition, I give a seed money of N250,000 to every graduate in agriculture.
” At the same time, in the last ten years, I have been organizing the Annual Agric Festival in Ado-Ekiti, with the best farmer in the state going home with N2million, while others that came behind them, getting their own lump, in millions as well,” Babalola said.
He appealed to the Federal Government to tow his line of Agric revolution, by commencing the process of reviving all moribund farm settlements across the country.
The pro chancellor of ABUAD said that revamping the moribund farm settlements in different regions of the country, would boost food security, agricultural production for local consumption, as well boost export and provide raw materials for industries.
According to him, this would also create job opportunities for the unemployed youths in the countryz and the level of insecurity reduced to barest minimum as they would be gainfully engaged.
Equally, he advised that governments at all levels should introduce agriculture into all levels of schools from primary to university, ensure that all allocations to local governments go to them directly, and not through their respective governors.
Babalola also advised the Federal Government, Federal Government to consider giving national honours to successful farmers and promoters of farming, and not only to politicians.
He recalled how the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, as premier of the defunct Western Region, made use of the farm settlements in the region to promote its economy.
Babalola said that the revival of the farm settlements should be passionately considered as springboard to rediscover the country’s dying agricultural potential as the future of Nigeria lies in agriculture and not in crude oil.
He said Nigeria, which used to be one of the leading exporters of cocoa and palm oil, has lost its place, due to neglect of the sector.
“It may not be crime to abandon agriculture but it is certainly a sin. Don’t forget, the place of the Garden of Eden, placed under Adam and Eve in Book of Genesis. This is a divine instruction that man must work and provide for whatever he needs,” Babalola said.
He also called for increased annual budgetary allocations to the agriculture sector, saying it had had potential to lead millions of Nigerians out of poverty and provide food security.
The PRO-Chancellor equally stressed that the government must as a matter of urgency, implement sustainable policies, and provide modern farm implements, improved seedlings and soft loans, to make agriculture more attractive so that the youths would develop interest in it.