Rotimi Williams, is a 36 year-old Nigerian entrepreneur and rice farmer. The former journalist and banker is the owner of Kereksuk Rice Farm, the 2nd largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria by land size.
After his basic education in Nigeria, the rice entrepreneur obtained his degree in Economics from the University of Aberdeen. He furthered his education and obtained an MSc. from the same institution. Rotimi also obtained another MSc. in Finance and Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
After his education he worked as an analyst for European Economics and Financial Centre in London. After that he moved on to write for Euromoney Magazine. These jobs exposed him to the realities and potentials of Agriculture in Africa.
Rotimi returned to his come country with the hopes that he would have the opportunity to implement what he had learnt. Unfortunately his banking job did not guarantee any future in agriculture. Thus he quit the job and ventured into the fields. He recalls the challenge in raising funds for his agricultural project and self educating himself on rice production.
“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.”
Rotimi Williams today is a proud owner of a 45, 000 hectare large rice field. He sells to major milling companies in Nigeria. The rice field is located in Nasarawa state with over 100 farm workers. In maintaining a workable raport with the workers, he came up with a scheme called the Farm Out Of Poverty (FOOP) initiative.
“Under the FOOP, we are able to train approximately a hundred Fulani women in rice farming, at the same time, employing their men as our security and finally, feeding their castles from the rice straws after harvest.”
FOOP initiatives also engages in annual training of about 30 Nigerian children in Senior secondary classes in the basics and intricacies of agriculture.
“At the end of the year we set aside N50,000 ($160) per student per year. This accrues to N150,000 (approximately $500) at the end of the 3-year programme per student.”
Rotimi Williams believes his Keresuk rice field will help the Nigerian economy in terms of manufacturing. The Keresuk rice farm produces about 8,000 metric tons a year. However he hopes the output will be doubled by next year.