I learnt it all on Google says Nigeria’s 2nd largest rice farmer.
Forbes Mfonobong Nsehe interviews Nigerian’s second largest rice farmer. In this explosive interview Rotimi Williams spoke about how he learnt all about rice farming using Google search engine. How he was able to maintain peace between the Fulani herdmen and how he thinks Nigeria can improve in their rice production capacity.
Read the interview below:
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 WMB -4.95%, 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 2nd 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 indigenes of Nasarawa.
I recently caught up with the budding entrepreneur in Lagos, and had a brief chat with him where he recounted his journey and mused on how Nigeria can attain self-sufficiency in rice production in the near future.
What’s your educational and professional background?
I attended King’s College in Lagos. After attending secondary school at King’s College I proceeded to obtain my first degree at University of Aberdeen where I graduated with a degree in Economics. I also obtained a Master’s Degree in Economics from the same institution. My quest for more knowledge led me to enroll for yet another Master’s Degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London where I gained an MSc. in Finance and Development Studies.
Upon graduation, I landed a role as an analyst at the European Economics and Financial Centre in London. Afterwards, Euromoney Magazine- employed me where I covered the African space.
I would say that this is where my journey truly started.
Given your background as a journalist, what informed your decision to venture into rice farming?
While at Euromoney, I had the opportunity to travel around a few African countries. These trips exposed me to countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Ghana. A common thread amongst the aforementioned nations is agriculture. Agriculture is at the very core of these countries and this got me thinking. After a few more trips, I decided to move back to Nigeria and sink my teeth into the agricultural space. Nigeria remains the largest economy in Africa from both a GDP perspective and also the strength of the size of our population.
Upon my arrival back in Nigeria, I got a job at a premier Bank where I was promised to sit on the agriculture desk – my hope was that I would gain enough knowledge of the Nigerian agricultural industry and develop myself from there.
Unfortunately, the agricultural desk at the Bank never quite achieved its set goals. I pushed hard for the Bank to adopt policies and gain inroads into the agricultural industry but my attempts were somewhat frustrated. I sincerely feel that the bank wasn’t quite ready to launch fully into the agricultural space.
As my frustration grew, I decided to quit banking and planned to go it alone into agriculture. Frankly, my decision led to a challenging sojourn as attempts to raise funding with my partner proved difficult. We started a Structured Trade and Commodity Finance company. After a while I started consulting for small agriculture companies seeking to raise capital both locally and internationally.