With Ofadarice.com, it’s goodbye to ‘plastic rice’

Seven out of ten Nigerian families eat rice and its derivatives, on a regular basis. Outside bread, rice remains the most widely-consumed staple food in Nigeria. However, with the health implications of some substandard brands of polished rice and the threat of hazardous ‘plastic rice’ now becoming critical topics of public discussion, Seyi Adepoju and his team at Ofadarice.com are taking drastic steps towards a  solution.

Seyi Adepoju is co-founder and CEO of Ofadarice.com, a Nigerian agritech ecommerce startup. Ofadarice.com recently started business operations and currently focuses on Lagos, though it has its eyes on the national market. Consumers and institutional buyers can make their orders online on Ofadarice.com, or by phone and enjoy same-day delivery. No fuss, no hassles.

How did it all start? What prepared him as a startup founder?  Why Ofada rice? Why rice, at all? These were some of the questions Outrepreneurs posed at Seyi Adepoju, recently.

According to Seyi, after school, he was hit with the dearth of employment like so many young Nigerian graduates. As a solution and following his entrepreneurial instincts, he started a venture intended to revolutionize the distribution of diesel in Nigeria, using an online platform. Unfortunately, he got his hands badly burnt, because the concept of an online business was then not as popular as it is today. The business failed.

Afterwards and still passionate about the vast opportunities ecommerce and online channels could provide for businesses and consumers alike, he got busy as part of a small, but agile founding team which started Nigeria’s first retail food ecommerce startup, Hello Food. Hello Food has grown to become the now-popular Nigerian food delivery brand, Jumia Food.

Armed with the insights he garnered at Jumia Food and other enterprises, Seyi left Jumia Food as Head, Business Development to co-found Ofadarice.com.

A screenshot of the homepage at Ofadarice.com

As the name suggests, Ofadarice.com is a marketplace dedicated solely to providing top quality ofada rice products to consumers at affordable prices, with no delivery costs whatsoever. The site also offers for purchase and delivery, spicy and ready-to-eat ofada sauce in varying quantities.

Owners of Ofada rice brands, farmers and millers do not pay to display their products on the ecommerce site. They supply at wholesale prices and Ofadarice.com sells at a retailer’s price which is at par with the prices of Ofada rice in open markets (or sometimes lower) and even cheaper than the big supermarkets’. Therefore, Ofadarice’s business is essentially B2C (Business-to-Consumer), bridging the gap between farmers and consumers  and, in Adepoju’s words, “connecting the dots, leveraging technology to aggregate players in that space and bring them under one umbrella: the hub for all ofada rice sellers.”

Seyi Adepoju, Co-founder/CEO, Ofadarice.COM

Adepoju has some encouraging advice for farmers and millers who may wish to partner with Ofadarice.com: “so, if you have the original ofada rice product, get in touch and we will send our team over. If it meets our standards, your product gets displayed on the platform.”

The CEO of Ofadarice.com is not unaware of the challenges businesses (especially first-entrant players) might encounter trying to change the consumption habits of people, especially in the over-dependence of many Nigerian consumers on polished and imported rice. He emphasized that unlike imported (polished) rice, ofada rice contains lots of fibre and is fit for consumption by diabetics To ensure Nigerians take active steps towards adopting locally-produced species of rice which are healthier, he says his team is partnering with some concerned groups and organizations to create greater awareness towards re-orientating Nigerians on the health benefits of eating ofada rice, citing partnerships with WEMA Bank and other major players interested in growing agriculture in the country.

“They need to actually see value in what you are substituting for that to which they are accustomed…and we  are passing out more information about ofada rice, as fast as we can. Nigeria can become self-reliant in the area of food security and still feed other nations. It is not going to happen overnight, though.” he says.

Seyi also explains other projects on which the business is working.

“The food market in the country is a space where there is a lot of vacuum, but to be successful in a business, it is not about jumping into an industry; it is about having an understanding of what the challenges are and trying to create a solution to eradicate that challenge. For instance, the average age of the average ofada rice farmer is 65 years old. Now, it becomes a challenge if that average farmer passes on to the great beyond, without passing hands-on knowledge to a crop of young farmers who could carry on with cultivation.”

He continues. “Together with our investment partners, Ofadarice.com is investing in farm machinery and research and empowering these old farmers to become mentors to a cadre of young ofada rice farmers. In essence, we can be sure that in the next 10-15 years, we are going to have batches of young rice planters. The more people go into ofada rice farming, the cheaper it becomes, because product availability and abundance on the supply side eventually reduces the cost of the product. This is known as the ‘Farmillionaire Project’ and we are presently working on it.”

An interesting feature of Ofadarice.com is Ofada Nation, a blog where visitors can share their experiences and a foodie haven where the Nigerian party staple is celebrated. Yet, a unit of the business is a food franchise, where all recipes in the restaurant are made from ofada rice components .

Watch Seyi Adepoju speak on Outrepreneurs’ My Startup Story, now.

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Chiamaka Akuba20 Posts

Chiamaka Akuba is a graduate of Mass Communication of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about emerging markets and entrepreneurship and is actively working with the industry. She loves her conversations challenging and can’t help laughing when you call her ‘Honourable Writer of the Federal Republic'. Chiamaka is a Staff Writer at Outrepreneurs.

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