There is a lot to be said for invincibility, the feeling that against all odds, you will just keep soldiering through until you get what you want. This is exactly who Rotimi Williams is and exactly what he does. From a background of journalism and banking, the 35 year-old entrepreneur has risen to the position of owning the second largest farm in Nigeria. No mean feat when you consider exactly how much rice is consumed by our great nation.
Already having accomplished so much in such a short time, the determined young man left journalism and found himself in rice farming. He now owns Kereksuk Rice Farm, the 2nd largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria by land size. His farm, situated in Nasarawa state in northern Nigeria, sits on 45,000 hectares and employs more than 600 indigenes of Nasarawa.
This is the sort of business and progress we can get behind: employing the locals, empowering workers, and spreading the wealth.
Starting off at King’s College, Lagos, the academically-oriented Williams went on to study economics – bachelors and masters – at the University of Aberdeen. A second degree in Finance and Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London later led to a journalism career with Euromoney Magazine.
After his long sojourn abroad, Rotimi Williams came home and joined the agricultural department in a premier bank. He hoped to learn what he would need to start a career in farming, but the bank never seemed capable of covering this area adequately. He left a short while later to set up on his own.
He did this by speaking to the farm owners and offering them a joint venture where he would provide funding for development of the farm and would work with them in return. He ramped up his part ownership of 17,000 hectares to 45,000 hectares and has never looked back.
For someone who learnt everything he knows about rice growing from Google (yes, Google!), Rotimi Williams has turned into a savvy farmer and businessman. He has not only developed an impressive farm in Nigeria for Nigerians, but his staff strength has been pooled from the locals and that is equally as impressive.
He has approached the people of that land with respect and it’s paid off. While the rest of the country struggled with the scourge that is the Fulani Herdsmen, the scheme he created on his farm has meant that he’s been spared from the ravaging marauders.
The Farm Out Of Poverty initiative, Williams has employed approximately a hundred Fulani women in rice farming. At the same time, employing their men as our security and finally, feeding their cattle from the rice straws after harvest. The Fulani Herdsmen tend to leave Kereksuk Farms alone.
Rotimi Williams’ Kereksuk Rice Farm is not producing at maximum capacity at the moment, but that’s because the entrepreneur is rolling out the production in staged. 45,000 hectares is no small patch and it will take a lot of capital to put the entirety to work.
But, by Jove, this young man is working, and we could not be prouder!
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