Rotimi Williams is an ambitious 35 years old Nigerian entrepreneur and rice farmer. He 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.
The state of Nigeria consumes over 5 million metric tons of rice every year, with a significant portion of its consumption needs from imports. This is an opportunity which Rotimi Williams took advantage of and he is on the quest to reduce the import of rice to the barest minimum.
Williams is an alumnus of King’s College in Lagos State, Nigeria. After attending secondary school at King’s College, he proceeded to obtain his first degree at University of Aberdeen where he graduated with a degree in Economics. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Economics from the same institution. As a result of his quest for more knowledge, he enrolled for yet another Master’s Degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London where he gained MSc. in Finance and Development Studies.
After graduation, he secured a job as an analyst at the European Economics and Financial Centre in London. Afterwards, Euromoney Magazine employed him, where he covered the African space.
He had the opportunity to travel around a few African countries while he was at Euromoney. These trips exposed him to countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Ghana. He realized that a common thread amongst the aforementioned nations is agriculture. Agriculture is at the very core of these countries and this got him thinking. After a few more trips, he decided to move back to Nigeria and create an opportunity for himself in 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 his arrival back in Nigeria, he got a job at a premier bank where he was promised to sit on the agriculture desk. With this job description, he hoped that he would gain enough knowledge of the Nigerian agricultural industry and develop himself from there.
Unfortunately, the agricultural desk at the bank never quite achieved its set goals. He decided to quit banking and planned to go it alone into agriculture. This decision led to a challenging sojourn as attempts to raise funding with his partners proved problematic. He started a Structured Trade and Commodity Finance company. After a while he started consulting for small agriculture companies seeking to raise capital both locally and internationally.
After two years of no funds secured, he decided to make an offer of a 50-50 split to the farm owner. The partner agreed and that’s how Williams became part owner of 17,296 hectares of farmland. Knowing that agriculture would become the integral area of focus in Nigeria, he was optimistic and ramped up the land to 55,000 hectares. He later parted with his partner as a result of unaligned views and strategy. He was able to maintain 45,000 hectares for himself and today he has started producing and selling to major milling companies in Nigeria. He believes a person does not necessarily need a degree in farming before one can be a farmer. He learnt everything he knows today on Agriculture from Google. He downloaded every article he could find on rice production, consumed it and then practiced it in the fields.
He leaned heavily on the wisdom and cultural approach of the indigenes to carry out farming on such a scale in Nasarawa.
In combating the Fulani Herdsmen crisis in the Northern region of Nigeria, he created a scheme called the Farm Out Of Poverty initiative. Under the FOOP, approximately a hundred Fulani women are trained in rice farming, at the same time, employing their men as our security and finally, feeding their cattle from the rice straws after harvest. Today, we live in peace and all work towards the success of the farm.
Rotimi Williams is an inspiration of our time. He has been featured on Forbes, his impact on the Nigerian economy and grassroots development is worthy of recognition and applauds. We at The Bridge Leadership Foundation wish him well in his business and look forward to him making more impact in the society – motivating youths to believe they can be whatever they want to be.