My Community Boycots My Rice Products, Travels Outside To Buy Same With Higher Cost, Less Quality ___KJI RICE CEO
Mr Collins Nwaka is a renowned entrepreneur with focus in rice production. Returning from the United States of America, the Ubulu-Uku born award- winning business magnate ventured into massive rice production. Since March, 2021 when he established his rice mill at Ubulu-Uku, Aniocha South LGA of Delta, he has made inroads in the business, pushing quality and affordable rice products to all corners of Delta State. In this interview with ANTHONY OKECHUKWU, Mr Nwaka who is the Chief Executive Officer of KJI Rice discloses progresses made so far and the challenges he is facing, adding that foreign and local investors are sine qua non in the business.
Tell us about KJI Rice. I mean what is the factory all about?
kJI Rice aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, adapt rice-based production systems to foster, promote both Nigerian own rice, grown and milled by Nigerians n Nigeria by KJI Rice Mill Factory. This has been achievable with it’s vast amount of investments on both human
resources and modern machinery as opposed to foreign rice.. kJI Rice also fosters community development and growth via empowerment and youth mobilization through employment, educational programs. There has been an increased KJI Rice’s environmental footprint in the, community, state, Nigeria as a country and ultimately at the global level.
What prepared you to venture into rice business and how has it been
since your foray into rice production?
Accelerating kJI Rice impact and equity, upgrading value chains, sustainable production and supply systems, national and global rice array and providing new rice varieties are some of our targets. Nigeria is the continent’s leading
consumer of rice, one of the largest producers of rice in Africa. Rice is
one of the most consumed staples in Nigeria, with a consumption per
capital of 32kg. In the past decade, consumption has increased 4.7%,
almost four times the global consumption growth, and reached 6.4
million tonnes in 2017. Based on research, the countrys demand for Rice exceeds it’s currently production by 3.3 trillion metric tons annually. Even with the importation of foreign rice. This gapping void propelled kJI Rice Mill Factory to venture into action giving birth of the first production in March 2021.
The road so far has not been a walk in the park to say the least.There are
challenges much like any new business such poor reception in the
market places. The big brand names overshadow and dominate the
market. Limited capital funding for raw materials, production and
staffing unreliability and the astronomical staggering lack of power
supply suffice to say is the largest inhibitor. Despite all these challenges, rice production business is still by far the most lucrative for an organization and hugely impacting the food sustainability in country’s efforts to reduce, maintain he hunger level and provide healthy nutrition for the people while freeing itself from the grip of foreign goods and importation of foreign rice.
What is your capacity, that is what quantity do you produce on
kJIRice Mill Factory production capacity currently houses 5000-8000 bags of 50kg clean, stone free color sorted non-sticky easy to cook and firm rice monthly with potential to double that with the right support and financial backing.
4, Does KJI rice have local content or do you just import and rebag?
kJI Rice is 100% locally owned and operated. All resources ( workers,
sacks, graphics design, bagging, sealing and predominantly Paddy ) is grown, harvested, parboiled dried and processed, milled locally here in
Nigeria by Nigerians.
How many workers are on your payroll or what is the number of workers employed directly and indirectly in your factory?
kJI Rice Mill Factory, in March 2021 began with 10 members of staff total in
combination of procurement team, production crew and sales team.
In the last couple of years as demand increases so does the need to
increased manpower. Stiffing’sfrom human resources accounting
payroll marketing online promotional campaign, sales logistics
distribution public relations and departmental leaders are everly growing
proportional to the growth of the company. So far the company accommodates both permanent, temporary, independent contractors, seasonal workers, not fewer than 55-60
Are you comfortable with the scope of your operations or do you want
to expand in anyway. Or to put it straight would you welcome investors,
both foreign and local?
I am definitely not comfortable with the current scope (comfort zone is a
business/human disaster). I am craving expands more than the desert craves water. I am not only welcoming investors both foreign and domestic, I am
actively seeking investors to aid in the next evolutionary journey into
becoming a household name brand globally with compensation of 20%
7, What are your challenges in doing the business?
One of our major challenges is largely lack of power supply. In addition, Known name brands domination of the market, lack ofhuge capital fund for raw materials to flood the market with direct impact are also some of the challenges.
How would you want the government to assist rice farmers in Nigeria?
By the following but not limited to ,providing funding, Investors and
support system for small medium scale millers such as my humble self. This can be done through the market arena for display and sales of product, a kind of buy back program working interchangeable between the millers such as myself and the government. There should be a scheme to support and provide subsidized stable and
constant power supply.
Despite the high cost of rice, the demand for the product is still high.
Do you think you are satisfying the current demand in the market?
Absolutely not. As a matter of facts, currently rice/paddy is very scarce
so much so that an increase of over N3000.00 per bag took effect and is
on the continuous rise and will continue to do so till perhaps after January,, between the last week of July and the first week of August. This means that despite the increase in price there are still massive demand unmet in the market.This why I need the investors to come in with capital/funds to boost
more productions and flood the market with kJI Rice adequately.
What is the attitude of your community to your brand of product, KJI
With Power Supply being top on the list of challenges, the second runner
up is the demoralizing community attitude & response and or lack
thereof. It is horrendous to the point where the community boycott your product and travels outside to acquire the same product with higher cost and
even lesser quality if it means not supporting your efforts and progress.
absolutely rubbish, demoralizing and scandalous.The community is not encouraging the business. They act as if they are enemies of progress. To define this question with an adage from Ubulu Uku and loosely translated: “a hunter has no value for meat at home.