Elder Statesman and legal icon, Afe Babalola, has said if there was anything called life after life, his prayer would be to return to life as a farmer.
The 94-Year Babalola, who is the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), made the declaration at the opening ceremony of the 2023 annual edition of Afe Babalola Agric Expo, (ABAEX-2023) in Ado-Ekiti.
He described farming as the most profitable and energy charging profession if well pursued.
“If I am to come back to this world, and ask what I love to do, I will pray to return to life as a farmer, and not as anything else; farming is an act of God; farming is of God; it is the only profession identified with creation.
“Any country that has genuine interest in growth and development must first embrace farming, ditto the citizens.
“Aside from being a major source of employment generation, farming varnishes hunger and discourages laziness and stealing in any form.
“Those who started acts of corruption in Nigeria are not farmers but educated people who are invariably public officers.
“ An average farmer is known to be hardworking, content and perseverant.
“People say I am a successful lawyer and wonder why I should have anything to do with farming, but I tell them, I will continue to identify with farming because I grew up with it and enjoyed it.
He called on all tiers of government, especially the Federal Government to focus more on agriculture, right from the grassroots, and through the local government councils, while every individual, no matter their profession, should also embrace farming.
“Farming is best done at the local government level, and by extension, the grassroots; this is why I am again calling on the Federal Government to allocate local government funds to them directly, and not through state governments, many of which often divert such funds,” he added.
He said he had established an industrial park in ABUAD which accommodates over 100 industries to further boost food production.
According to him, the industrial park will buy farm products like mornings, rice, maize and others, direct from farmers, so as to put a stop to incidences of wastage and economic losses on the part of farmers.
Babalola promised to continue to invest his money and everything humanly possible in Agriculture, and lift as many farmers that showed interest, until Nigeria had a change of attitude in that reg,
Speaking earlier, the Local Organisng Committee, (LOC) Chairman of ABAEX- -2023, Prof. Abiodun Ojo, explained that the agricultural revolutionary vision of Babalola was to transform Ekiti into a prosperous society, through agricultural rejuvenation of farmers with financial support.
He said the ABAEX programme provided agricultural extension services to the farmers to evaluate their farms for productivity yields on a large scale.
Ojo said that the programme was implemented in all the local government areas of the state, adding the sum of N32 million had so far been committed to the 2023 edition.
In her welcome address, the ABUAD Vice Chancellor, Prof. Samaranda Ayorinde, said the institution was doing as much to promote agriculture in diverse ways with huge investment in the country.
The vice chancellor commended Babalola for his patriotism and generosity.