From Global to Local: MWF Exchange Alumnus Revolutionizes Local Rice Industry


Adji Zamtato is transforming his community in Chad one grain of rice at a time. Zamtato noticed that his town was importing large quantities of rice from Asia instead of consuming the locally produced variety, and he felt that there was room for improvement. Many locals didn’t want to use the Chadian rice due to issues with debris, stickiness, and a higher sugar content; where others saw a lesser product, Zamtato saw an opportunity. 

“Thanks to the courses that I received at Oklahoma State University, I launched the first local processed and packed rice under the brand ‘ADJI RIZ.’ I use the parboiling method to process the paddy rice before packaging it. I have to admit that it's just the first step of a long journey, but it already started and it's the more important thing,” he told us. 

Zamtato traveled to the U.S. as a recipient of the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. While on program, he studied at Oklahoma State University.

Upon his return to Chad, Zamtato was able to apply his knowledge of food processing to revolutionize the local industry. By implementing a new process for processing the rice before it reaches consumers, he was able remove any lingering sediment, improve the texture, and significantly lower the glycemic index, creating a much more desirable product. 

Though he has faced challenges in getting consumers to accept a new processed and packaged food, Zamtato says his rice production has been highly successful in local markets. His next step? In addition to being able to offer various package volumes, he hopes to be able to expand his markets internationally. In doing so, he hopes to continue to grow job opportunities locally while also improving the community’s self-sufficiency for food. 

Zamtato believes that determination and clear goals are far more important than resources along in creating a successful business. He hopes to show local youth that regardless of their situation, with lots of willpower, they can achieve their goals and be successful. 

“We have a lot of work to do in terms of food processing and packaging in Chad, and I hope that my work will inspire more youth in my community. I wish also that, despite the outbreak of COVID-19, other young Chadians will benefit from this prestigious program in the future,” he said. 

You can learn more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship on exchanges.state.gov.