A 73-year old farmer, Alhaji Olayinka Adeyemi, has emerged the Overall Best Farmer of the year in Ekiti state, winning N1 million prize.
Alhaji Olayinka has been in farming since 1965.
Chief Afe Babalola, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the organiser of Afe Babalola Agricultural Exhibition code named “ABA-EX 2017” gave the prize to the winner on Sunday at the closing of the exhibition at the Afe Babalola University ( ABUAD ), Ado Ekiti.
The agric exhibition, where Adeyemi won the prize was organised by Gov. Ayo Fayose.
The Septuagenarian was among about 300 other farmers shortlisted for the government exhibition from among leading farmers in all the 16 local government areas of the state.
Two farmers each from the 16 council areas got N150, 000 and N100, 000 for wining first and second positions at the local level.
Babalola offered to start buying farm produce from farmers in the state.
This, the legal luminary said would save farmers in the state the agony of produce wastage and loss of profit on their produce due to lack of storage facilities and ready market.
Babalola, who is also a big-time farmer,said he decided on buying the farm produce to improve the well being of farmers and make farming attractive again like it used to be before the discovery of oil.
He noted that most Nigerian farmers were usually compelled to sell their produce at ridiculous prices because of lack of facilities to preserve them.
The (SAN) also identified lack of working capital, storage facilities and modern farm implements as reasons why many had abandoned farming for odd jobs in the city.
He also said lack of access to ready market for their produce contributed to farmers abandoning the occupation, thereby making them poorer.
“As from now, I wish to announce to all farmers in Ekiti State that they are free to bring their farm produce in bulk to us here. We are ready to by them and pay you 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.
Fayose, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola thanked Babalola for his intervention in agriculture and education sectors in the state.
He described Babalola as the best, most critical partner and a stakeholder in the running of government.