Rice production is one of the most important economic
activities on earth which utilizes large area of land for its cultivation. Rice
growers and consumers form the bulk of the world's poor. More importantly, rice
has high capacity to generate employment and income for young people and women.
It can be produced 2 times in a year with maturity period ranging between 100 –
120 days. The 10th largest rice producers in the world are China,
India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Japan
and Brazil, these countries account for 86% of world production.
Rice is an indispensable food and cash crop that can
guarantee food sufficiency for any nation producing it. Rice consumption has
increased rapidly because of urbanization, relative ease of preparation, and
convenience in storage. A single person consumes 20.9kg of milled rice per year.
Indeed, nearly half of the world’s population eat rice. It is commonly boiled
and eaten with stew or vegetable soup. It is also used in the preparation of
several local dishes that are eaten in every home, especially during festivals
and ceremonies. Popular rice dishes in Nigeria include; Jollof rice, Fried
rice, Plain rice, Coconut rice, MASA and TUWO. Following that, Nigeria’s rice
consumption is expected to jump to 35 million metric tons by 2050. Rice has
been successfully grown in Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Lagos, Oyo, Delta, Enugu, Baylesa,
Cross River, Sokoto, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Niger, Kwara, Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna,
Taraba, Adamawa, Borno, Benue, Edo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Nasarawa, FCT etc.
In Nigeria, demand for rice is put at 5.2 million
ton per annum with local production still at 3.3 million ton leaving a demand
gap of 1.9 million tons which is met by importation from Thailand, Pakistan,
India, United States, Vietnam etc. Importation from those countries alone is
about 24 million MT valued at $8.86 billion, this trend has caused a drain on
foreign reserve. The current and past Government have worked toward improving
rice sufficiency in Nigeria. Presently, partial ban/restriction on rice
importation, escalating demand and abundant suitable growing ecology have been
the major driving forces for young agropreneurs, investors, private organisations
and Government-owned organisations to go into commercial rice production which
is indeed a precursor for economy prosperity. There are many value chain
opportunities in rice production one can invest in and it includes; Rice
farming, certified seed production, rice machinery and other input supplies/hiring,
rice milling/processing, rice marketing and export.
Interestingly, on a commercial scale, it is possible
to start producing your own branded rice packaged in 5kg, 25kg or 50kg without
owning a milling factory; there are quite number of integrated large scale rice
processing plants that mill and process rice paddy. A 50kg of rice has been
N8,000 – N15,000.
With this approach, it is possible generate a gross margin of 45.15% and a Net
Profit/Sales of 29.76%.
Considerations for Commercial Rice Farming
The following considerations are important for
successful rice farming;
1. Ecology: Rice grows in a wide range of ecology. It has been
grown in rain-fed upland, irrigated upland, rain-fed lowland, irrigated
lowland, deep water and mangrove swamp. Rice is considered as semi-aquatic
annual grass hence it is important to grow rice where there is constant and
abundant water supply. Choose fertile land (40 - 60% clay), valley or fadamas
with good water retention. During land preparation, uplands and lowlands need
proper soaking, ploughing/harrowing or rototilling under shallow submerged as
well as puddling before planting/transplanting. A flat field is ideal for
upland rice. Sloppy field may need bunds to retain water and reduce erosion. Lowland
rice (3 - 6.5 tons/ha) cultivation usually gives more paddy yield than upland (2
– 4 tons/ha). About 90% of rice production is from lowlands which could be
rain-fed or irrigated.
2. Water Supply: Upland rice may be susceptible to moisture stress
under rain-fed condition with the current climate change. In such case rain
water can be capture by creating field bunds. Rice needs more water during
reproductive stage (tillering, panicle initiation, flowering, milking and dough
stage). Adequate water supply through precipitation or irrigation is important
for fast development, weed control and maximizing the efficiency of fertilizers
and herbicides applied. The rice should be completely drained 10-15 days before
harvesting to promote uniform ripening of grains and timely harvest. Over
flooding and erosion should be prevented by building dyke across flood plains.
3. Seed Variety:
Different seed varieties have been
developed to suit particular ecology. Seed variety planted will determine final
output hence it is important to get certified seeds from reputable suppliers. Good
rice varieties should give higher level of germination; reduce the need for gaping, give uniform/vigorous growth; resistant to insect pests/diseases and
have higher yield. Recommended rice varieties
for uplands are FARO 58 (NERICA 7), FARO 56 (NERICA 2), FARO 49 (ITA 315) etc.
while lowlands are FARO 44 (SIPI692033), FARO 60 (L19), FARO 50 (ITA 230) etc.
There are other varieties recommended for other ecology. For example, NERICA
varieties are mainly developed for upland cultivation. Seeds should be treated
(dressing and priming) before planting based on soil condition and varieties
for adequate protection and better germination
Amendment: Adequate fertilization
program is needed for optimum development. Rice mostly needs nitrogen and
phosphorus based fertilizer. Apply fertilizer in completely drained field.
Weed/Pests/Disease Control: Weed should be
properly controlled during land preparation Pr-emergence and post-emergence
herbicides should be properly applied. Apply herbicides in completely drained
field. Use disease resistant, healthy and treated seeds for planting to prevent
diseases and pests attack. Timely application of insecticide is also important.
It is important to protect rice field from
bird attack at milking stage. Scarecrows or bird repellent can be used against
By and large, timely harvest (usually 30-45 days after
flowering) is crucial to maximizing yields and grain quality. With good management,
success is guaranteed in rice farming.
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