Agripreneur Of The Week – Rotimi Williams of Kereksuk Rice Farm
Inside Success Story of 35-Year-Old Agric Entrepreneur Who Owns Nigeria’s 2nd Largest Rice Farm
Educational and Professional Background
Nigerian-born Agric entrepreneur, Rotimi Williams obtained his first degree in Economics at University of Aberdeen. Also, from the same institution, he bagged a Master’s Degree in Economics. His quest for more knowledge led him to enroll for another Master’s Degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London where he bagged MSc. in Finance and Development Studies.
He took up a role as an analyst at the European Economic and Financial Centre in London upon his graduation. He was later employed by Euromoney Magazine where he covered the African space.
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 Nasarawa.
From Journalism to Agribusiness
While working with Euromoney, Rotimi had the opportunity to travel around some African countries like; Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Ghana, which agriculture seems to be the common thread. After a few more trips, the economics graduate decided to move back to his country; Nigeria to sink his teeth into the agricultural space.
On getting to Nigeria, he got a job offer at a premier bank and was appointed to sit on the agriculture desk where he hopes to gain more knowledge about Nigerian agricultural industry and develop himself from there.
Rotimi shared more about his experience at Premier Bank, he said; “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.”
Story behind Rotimi’s 45, 000 hectares rice farm and challenges
“Two years had passed and we still had no funds, so I made an offer to the farm owner, that with a 50-50 split, I would develop the farm with both personal funds and external funding. He agreed and that’s how I became part owner of 17,296 hectares of farmland. Knowing that agriculture would become the integral area of focus in Nigeria, I was bullish and ramped up the land to 55,000 hectares. I later parted with my partner as a result of unaligned views and strategy. I maintained 45,000 hectares for myself and today we have started producing, with our quality paddy being sold to major milling companies in Nigeria. However, I must add the following, 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. I downloaded every article I could find on rice production, consumed it and then practiced it in the fields.” He told Mfonobong Nsehe, contributor at Forbes.com.
Lessons to learn from Rotimi’s Story
- Be creative
- Dream Big
- Make Research
- Take Risk
- Be clear with your goals