All over the world, rice is a very popular food, because it is eaten by both the rich and the poor in every society. In Nigeria, bags of rice are distributed as gifts and used to show appreciation. That is how valuable rice is. In Thailand, to invite a family to the dining table for meal, you say, “eat rice”. Same with Japan. Also in China, Chinese young girls are told to eat all the rice in a plate not leaving a single grain because each grain of rice stands for a pock mark on their future husband’s face.
Rice is botanically known as Oryza sativa is a cereal grain and used in preparing several dishes like white rice and stew, jollof rice, fried rice, pounded rice, etc. It is easily combined with other food to make a great meal.
Scientifically, rice contains complex carbohydrate that is why it gets sticky after parboiling, sticks together when excess water is used in cooking the meal and turns the water used in washing the rice milky .
Rice contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Rice is an annual grain harvested once in a year. It has a very high demand all over the world, high yield, high return on investment and takes 3-4 months to mature.
Investing in rice production is one of the most lucrative agricultural businesses you can ever do. As population increases, so does the demand for rice also increases. From findings, Nigerians consume about 5.5 million tons of rice annually and 3.6 million tons are locally produced. This shows that our local production is far below our consumption of the product. Most of the rice consumed in Nigeria are imported, therefore getting involved in the production of rice in Nigeria can help fill the gap and make you rich.
Even though rice farming is capital intensive, the Nigerian Government and some banks are interested in rice farming due to its high profitability and demand.
The Nigerian Government encourages local production of rice by giving loans and incentives to rice farmers. Find out about the various government incentives to rice farmers in your state. You also partner with others to invest in the this business.
In Nigeria, many states produces different types of rice and are named based on their location or tradition. For instance, Kano State produces UMZA rice, Anambra State produces Anambra rice, Ogun State produces Ofada Rice, etc. Specifically, there are three varieties of rice grown in Nigeria, which include; Upland rice, Lowland rice and FADAMA rice. This is because of the difference in geographical and ecological factors in the different parts of the country.
How to go about rice farming
1. Choose the best land for cultivation: the land should be very fertile, free from diseases. Rice requires a high water holding-capacity soil or loamy soil that contains more of organic matter. The land should have direct access to water body or water supply. When water bodies such as rivers, lake, stream,etc. are not around the area, provision should be made for water supply for irrigation. Swampy land is the best land for rice cultivation for high yield.
2. Preparation of land: the land should be of its bushes. This can be done during the dry or wet season, all depends on the geographical factors, the type of equipment you intend using and the number of times you intend harvesting in a year since it takes only 3-4 months to mature. It is best to clear the land earlier (November – February) in order to expose the rhizomes of weeds to direct sunlight. With this, the growth of weeds will be reduced. Proper irrigation chanel should be constructed.
3. Select right variety of seed: when the wrong variety of rice is selected for cultivation, low yield will be obtained but when the right variety is selected, high yield, grains that are resistant to pests and diseases and decreased weed is obtained. Each specie of rice grows in a different geographical area. In order to avoid planting the wrong specie in an area, take your time to survey the area you intend cultivating your rice to find out the specie that grows very well in such area. In case there are no rice farm around, carry out soil analysis on the soil you intend to cultivate and find out the matching specie.
4. Plant with the right method and at the right time: in rice farming, you can make use of direct planting or go through the nursery then transplant. For direct planting, you can dibble the seeds or better still broadcast the seeds.
Just that the only problem of the later is weed.
The spacing should be between 20-25cm among the rows and 15 – 20cm between the plants.
For nursery, the seeds should be packed in a gunny bag and soaked in water for 24 hours. After this, put the gunny bags in shades and sprinkle water over the seeds. Turn the bags side to side at least 3 times a day for proper growth. After 3-4 days, the seeds should sprout. The drainage canal for the nursery field should be set already for water distribution and removal. The nursery plants can be taken to main field after 21 days.
For dibbling, 60kg of seeds is required per hectare while for broadcasting 80kg of seeds are required.
The best time for planting rice is mid-March to mid-April for forest areas and mid-May to Mid-June for savannah areas.
5. Water supply and fertilizer application: the level of water in the field should be up to 5cm especially after transplanting until the grains matures. But before harvesting, the water in the field should be drained one week before harvesting. Rice needs enough water to germinate and mature on time.
Fertilizer can be applied 3-4 weeks after planting especially when the rice has been used for cultivation and was not allowed to regain it’s fertility before planting.
6. Weeds and pest control:weeds can be controlled using herbicides. When chemicals like TamariceTMPL, RonstarTMPL, etc . are to be used, drain the water in the field before spraying. For hand weeding, first weeding should be 2-3 weeks after planting and a second weeding should be 6-7 weeks after planting.
The common pests for rice are termites, armyworm, rodents, stem borers and birds. These pests can be controlled using pesticides. For birds, they can be scared off using scare crow (objects that looks like a human).
7. Harvesting: it takes 3-4 months for rice to mature. When the plant changes from green to brown or straw colour, the rice is ready for harvesting.
After harvesting, thresh the grains from the straw. Threshing should not be done on a bare floor. Spread the paddy on a mat or tarpaulin over a concrete floor and beat the rice against the floor. Use wacking frames or blowing device for separating the grains from the straw. Sundry for 3-4 days This reduces the moisture content to 13-14 percent and hence, reduce breakage during milling.
8. Parboiling: the rice grains called paddy are parboiled for 5-6 hours at 70°C. Parboiling weakens the husk for easy milling and at the same time toughen the rice to reduce breakage. While parboiling, the damaged grains becomes coloured and floats in the water. A sieve can be used to remove the damaged grains. Stop parboiling as soon as the rice husks starts splitting open. Remove the water and dry. A chalky grain or a grain with white at the center is an indication of incomplete parboiling.
9. Milling: this is usually done using a milling machine. In a milling machine, the rice passes through two chambers. The first chamber removes the rice from its husks and the second chamber polishes the rice, removing the brown layer called rice bran to obtain the edible rice grains.
The husks of the rice is a good feed for ruminant animals like cattle, sheep and goat, while the rice bran is very rich and expensive feed for pigs and poultry birds. Also, a heap of burnt husk can be used to generate electricity depending on the size. The rice residues can be plow into the soil and it serves as organic matter and enriches the soil.
10. Packaging: after milling, the rice is ready for storage and distribution. It should be packed in bags and stored in a cool, dry place and free from pests. One good thing about rice is that when properly stored, it can stay for years. At this point, it can be distributed to buyers both within and outside the country.
Agricultural business is indeed a very lucrative one, you can participate in any stage and make your money or own one and make millions from it. Rice production is one of it and of everyday increase in demand.
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About the writer:
This was written by Chiamaka Uduezue, content contributor 1 at MyAfribusiness.com. She is a graduate of Environmental Management and enjoys researching, learning new things, sharing knowledge with others and motivating people to succeed.
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