Founder of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) Chief Afe Babalola, SAN has said if the country was to survive the current economic challenges facing it, more attention must be given to the agricultural sector.
The renowned lawyer stated this in Ado-Ekiti while speaking during the official opening of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) project training for youths in Ekiti and Oyo states under the Youth Employment in Agri-business and Sustainable Agriculture (YEASA)
Babalola maintained that the agriculture sector has what it takes to provide employment opportunities for youths and make them financially independent instead of depending on the government.
He called on government at all levels in the country to rejig the education curriculum by placing more emphasis on agriculture and make it more attractive to youths in the society.
He said: “I believe that if we want to change this country, we must go back to agriculture. It used to be the mainstay of the economy of this country but somehow our educational system has been destructive by not emphasising the importance of agriculture.
“Farming provides what we eat and it should be the biggest employer of labour. We have abandoned the most important sector, which is agriculture and that is why we have many people begging to eat in Nigeria today.
“Education is beyond writing and reading. It is about using what you have learnt in school, using your hands and skills to make a life for yourself. That is what I can call education.”
He disclosed that the university was determined to expose participants to modern farming techniques during the training adding that financial grants would be provided for the youths after the training for them to start their farming businesses.
“We want to turn our youths into great being through agriculture. A new philosophy of life that will make them have confidence in themselves.
“Apart from the training, we are giving them certificate but more importantly after the training we are giving them seedlings when necessary and funds to start their farming. We will also do follow up on the beneficiaries both in Ekiti and Oyo states,” he stated.
Earlier, the acting vice-chancellor of ABUAD, Professor Smiranda Olarinde revealed that the training was a three- year programme for over 1,000 youths in Oyo, Ekiti states and in Benin Republic.
She said that the institution was concerned about adding values to the youths through agriculture, saying the training would improve their managerial, financial and entrepreneur skills.