Research reveals that Nigerians consume more than 5 million metric tons of rice every year with a significant portion of its consumption needs sourced from imports. Rotimi Williams, an ambitious 35 year-old Nigerian entrepreneur and rice farmer is on a quest to change that.
Williams, a former journalist, is the owner of Kereksuk Rice Farm, the second largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria by land size. His farm, which is situated in Nasarawa state in northern Nigeria, currently sits on 45,000 hectares and employs more than 600 natives of
Mr Williams journeyed on a fairly successful professional path before he decided to become a farmer. According to the King’s College, University of Aberdeen and Oriental&African Studies alumnus, it was his stint as a journalist for Euromoney magazine in London that opened his eyes to Nigeria’s potential in Agriculture. He had the opportunity to travel around a few African countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Ghana, and concluded that if agriculture could play a dominant role in the economies of these African countries, it could thrive as well in Nigeria due to its strenght in size of both the GDP and population.
When he returned to Nigeria, he found to his disappointment that many financial institutions including the bank which he worked for did not seem to be interested in funding agricultural projects even though he sat on the Agricultural desk of the bank. Feeling frustrated by his employers’ apparent disregard for the business of agriculture, Mr Williams decided to quit banking and planned to go it alone into agriculture as his efforts to push for the bank to adopt policies and gain inroads into the agricultural industry met a brick wall.
After parting ways with the farm owner with whom he had initially struck a partnership deal, he maintained 45,000 hectares of the land and has continued to develop it. Mr Williams says his farm now produces 8,000 metric tonnes of rice a year. He also plans to double this output next year.
He has been able to ward off the threat of Fulani herdsmen by creating a scheme called the Farm Out Of Poverty (FOOP) initiative. Under the FOOP, they’re are able to train approximately a hundred Fulani women in rice farming, at the same time, employing their men as their security and finally, feeding their cattles from the rice straws after harvest.
Kereksuk seeks to contribute its own quota to reduce the weight on our economy to keep importing rice – which is consumed in such high demand in our country.
“I often have people ask how I learned about farming, as everyone thinks you need a special degree in agriculture to be a farmer, but I always tell them the truth, I learnt it all on Google GOOGL – 0.08%. I downloaded every article I could find on rice production, consumed it and then practiced it in the fields” He says.