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This is Rotimi Williams, the 35-year-old Entrepreneur Who Owns Nigeria’s 2nd Largest Rice Farm

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Rotimi Williams on his farm.

Rotimi Williams on his farm. Credit: Forbes

It’s always great to see young Nigerians playing their role in the development of the nation’s economy and the improvement of the society

35-year-old Rotimi Williams is one of such. He owns Kereksuk Rice Farm which is the 2nd largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria by land size.

In a brief chat with Forbes’ Contributor, Mfonobong Nsehe, the former journalist talks about his educational and professional background and his two Masters degrees (not in Agriculture).

He says when people ask how her learnt all he knew about farming, he always replies: “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”.

Read below:

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.

You currently own the second (2nd) largest rice farm in Nigeria with 45,000 hectares in Nasarawa, Nigeria. What’s the story behind your acquisition of such vast land, and what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in farming in the volatile northern region?

Two years had past 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.

Frankly, my experience working alongside indigenes of Nasarawa state has been exceptional. I have learnt over the years that if you approach people with respect even more so while one seeks to set up a business venture. Having a healthy sense of community makes all the difference in attaining one’s set objectives. I lean heavily on the wisdom and cultural approach of the indigenes to carry out farming on such a scale here in Nasarawa.

Read More HERE.

33 Comments

  1. i no send

    June 28, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    these are the kind of success stories i want to read..

    • Nakoms

      June 28, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      Don’t expect to see more of it. Maybe it’s a slow day for BN. People are more interested in baby mama and battle of the sexes stories.

    • Wale

      June 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Gradually stepping away from oil one farm at a time.

  2. ola

    June 28, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    inspiring

    • damilola

      June 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      This is insightful. I love his statement about learning from google. One of the things that holds me and many back in venturing out is, I don’t have a strong background in a particular area People won’t take me serious. Rotimi, keep shinning.

  3. Oma D

    June 28, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Very insightful, well done

  4. Oma

    June 28, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Impressive stuff. We need more of this

  5. AdaM

    June 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Well done. This is thought provoking.

  6. Lateefah

    June 28, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Insightful! I’m about to make a major entrepreneurial decision and I’m scared! Rotimi’s success story is motivating…I’m still scared of leaving my comfort zone and probably lose money… Life!!!

    • Chimmie Ijezie

      June 28, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      If you sure of it, do it. The different between you that has the idea and the person who has done it is that the other person took the bold step. Take a bold step, yes you’d encounter difficulties and setback at first (I encountered that when setting my online shopping site which is soon to launch) but that doesn’t mean anything. Believe in yourself and please ensure it’s a passion you love. Goodluck and I hope to hear of your success story in the future

    • Lateefah

      June 29, 2016 at 8:26 am

      Thanks @ Chinmie Ijezie! I woke up this morning more determined to go ahead and your response helped too.

  7. Tincan

    June 28, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Well done Rotimi. Truly ‘Audentis Fortuna Iuvat’.

  8. Mabel

    June 28, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    All I have to say is, where is the jollof?

  9. Fleur

    June 29, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Nice story!! Inspiring. You left an important bit out. if I read all I want on google, it wont tell me where to get money to negotiate with a rice farm owner in Nassarawa. Please tell us the nuts and bolts of how you actually got started. Its not as if you took a hoe to the soil after reading google. You needed funds to negotiate with the farmer. How did you get the funds? How did you get the additional acreage? How much should people have in mind if they want to replicate what you did? If you dont want to reveal your biz plan, what would you recommend as a starter amount for industrialized farming? Educate us so we can join ya!

    • sika

      June 29, 2016 at 1:38 am

      Obasanjo is his father in law. That may answer your ‘funds’ question.

    • Lois

      June 29, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Nothing stopping any of us too. We may not have the family pedigree but so many of us have families that support us in other wise asides from financials which they cannot afford. I have seen and know too many self-made people. All they did was have determination to succeed, work their asses off and stay true to customers in the sense of customers satisfaction. Let nothing be our hindrance. Like me now, I will be going back to school to pursue my passion. I will get there and eventually establish the schools of my dream by God’s grace.

  10. Bey

    June 29, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Hard working guy, we’ve worked together before.
    He forgot to mention he’s obasanjo’s son in-law. Won’t be surprised if obasanjo farms has an involvement in this his project.
    Heard Baba is really fond of him.

    • Joke

      June 29, 2016 at 3:13 am

      Thank you. He is married to Bunmi Obasanjo and he is acting like he is nobody. He is from good stock himself, combined with his bride’s families leg. That combo no be for here. The “leg” assistance he probably received no go be for here oh. God help us nobodies because most of those that make it in 9aija are “somebodies…” Thanks for shining that light to reveal the assistance he probably received. I don’t know why people don’t tell the “whole truth.”

    • Naijatalk

      June 29, 2016 at 3:37 am

      There is hope for you my sister. God will bless the work of your hands because you are a somebody. One day we will hear your story

    • Puzzles

      June 29, 2016 at 9:02 am

      Now everything makes sense! OBJ’s son-in-law. Abeg, he had HELP in capital letters.

      Is there no success story where the person did not probably gain his leverage from relationship/association with a politician? (No answer me, I know there are some. however few)

      However, he is way better than those big boys who do yahooyahoo or live off their parents’ or parents-in-law’s wealth. And he is providing livelihood to some people in nasarawa.

    • Weezy

      June 29, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      For real self-made stories, look to the tech sector. Tech has a comparatively low barrier to entry, in that all you need is a university degree, a laptop, and internet connection.

      Meanwhile, thank you to the people who clarified that the guy didn’t do it by googling.

    • Esther A.

      June 29, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      There is no such thing as self-made success. Every business that ‘blows’ received the assistance of some ‘big man’ secretly or publicly, biologically related or not. God uses men to lift men. Instead ask God to connect you in His favour, to those people that will do the lifting – also be ready to lift others. No one needs to wait for that lifter to come, start and they will come….#my2cents

    • ATL's finest

      June 29, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Whaoooo why is he yarning like this? I thought he didn’t know ANYTHING about the ‘rich’ folks. Abeg I don’t like this story anymore 🙂 ain’t nothing wrong in saying a Lil truth. If OBJ is your father in-law, then he has his hands on it. (In my Marvin Sapo voice).

  11. Expert

    June 29, 2016 at 2:45 am

    Kudos to this young man and I wish him more achievements. The Youths are definitely taking charge. However, I have never seen this Kereksuk branded rice in the markets or supermarkets. (maybe I have not looked well). Pls is it only for exportation only? Or are the rice importers/merchants/Distribution Chains not allowing the products to get to the stores? Quality MIN (made in Nigeria goods) should be readily available/affordable so that we can buy, create employment and grow our Naira & Kobo. Mr. RW, if you are reading this, pls let us know where we can buy your rice nationwide.

  12. Billiobaire in grace

    June 29, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Thank you BN thats very inspiring and encouraging to me. God Bless you

  13. Anon

    June 29, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Just wow. Is he from the family of lawyers? F.R.A?

  14. chioma

    June 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Very interesting story,I’m so inspired weldone rotimi,i wish to be like you soonest.m

  15. Beee

    June 29, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Nice one rotimi, what an inspiring story

  16. Jamce

    June 29, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    This is worth celebrating. Kudos to Mr. Rotimi and whoever supported you both morally and financially. I will also celebrate your level of discipline as a young man to pursue this dream. Please keep the discipline because, it is one thing to achieve success and it is another to stay successful. May God give you more grace and strength to carry on with what Nigeria needs today.

  17. Prince

    June 29, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Highly inspiring. He learnt everything on google. Jesus!!!

  18. Esther A.

    June 29, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    There is no such thing as self-made success. Every business that ‘blows’ received the assistance of some ‘big man’ secretly or publicly, biologically related or not. God uses men to lift men. Instead ask God to connect you in His favour, to those people that will do the lifting – also be ready to lift others. No one needs to wait for that lifter to come, start and they will come….#my2cents

  19. osaretin

    June 30, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Thank you google.

  20. Wemmy

    June 30, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Need someone to link me up with him, I have biz plans for rice as well

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