Rice is a staple food that is largely and consistently eaten both in Nigeria and the world at large. I guess, if I say it is the most consumed foodstuff in Nigeria I may not be wrong. There is hardly any ceremony that food is served and rice is not among or be the only food served. Before now in our country we were practicing rice farming to a large extent on subsistence level (very few persons were involved).
We were majorly depending on rice mportation for rice sufficiency. This day the story has changed; because of the ban on rice importation many investors and entrepreneurs took advantage of the opportunity.
States like Borno, Kebbi, Plateau, Lagos are massively producing rice. This has brought increase to our foreign reserve and has proviided thousands of jobs to people. Dangote has launched billions of Naira rice scheme that can mill 14,000 tonnes of rice per hour. This will make him the largest rice producer in Africa in the nearest future.
This has made our dependency on rice importation as a Nation to drop by 90%. This is a very cherry news but we still need to do more to also become major exporters of rice. The few rice producing companies are not enough because population is growing everyday.
THINGS NEEDED TO KICK START RICE FARMING
Capital: conduct a feasibility study then right down your plans so that you will know the capital that is involved before starting. Although the money required will be spread across the months before harvest it will be ideal to keep the money handy so that it can be used when needed. Lack of funds will portend danger. It could result in loss of farm or reduction in yield.
In case you don’t have enough cash to start the rice farming; you can source for people with like minds to join in the business. Another way is to source for investors to get involved.
Seed: this is another important thing to consider. Using a healthy seed means getting healthier crop.
The type of Seeds used for planting affects rice in different ways;
It can increase yield by 5% – 10%
Excellent germination process
Weed reduction in the farm
Resistant to pest/diseases to a greater extent
Consistency in the size of plant harvested.
You have to choose the variety you are going to use for planting according to your environment or the kind of soli you are using for your rice farming.
You should be able to know the ones that will do well in lowlands as well as highlands. Get healthy seeds from the right place. Chose the seeds manually or you buy from registered companies. Especially, the ones that are registered with the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC). It is the agency responsible for seed regulation in Nigeria.
In Nigeria we have improve rice varieties. high yielding long rice grains variety. Farro 45 and Farro 52 are high yielding long grain varieties. They can yield between 6-7 tonnes per hectare.
Traditional variety this can yield 1.5-2.0 tonnes per hectare.
For people cultivating paddy rice in the South West the varieties to use are; Nerica 8 and Farro 55, these 2 do well in upland others are Farro 59 and Nerics 13.
The varieties for lowland that can do well in hydromorphic soil is Farro 44.
Land: this is very important. The land used for rice farming should be clayey in nature and may contain some amount of humus soil. That is why swampy areas are best for planting rice.
Some people consider bush burning to be a waste of time and resources that’s why they opt for chemicals to do the work.
If you plan to use rain water for your rice farming then you have to start land preparation in March, and plant in late April.
THE REQUIREMENT FOR A GOOD RICE YIELDS
Rice yield has to do with farm management procedures.
Make provision for adequate water (very important)
Prepare the land to be use very well. Upland requires tillage for gaseous penetration and support of microbial activities to the roots. Lowland areas (swampy areas) is cultivated mainly for rice.
Some farmers don’t bother tilling lowlands again they just apply herbicides and start farming. But you can still till lowland with a power tiller machine.
Make provision for effective bird control system.
Upland yield is always less than that of lowland. Upland yield is about 1.5 tons per hectare. Seed spraying method is cheaper than nursery and transplanting but transplanting improves yield and controls weed. Direct planting makes it difficult to control weeds. With irrigation you can plant all year round; maybe twice in a year. Transplant 2 weeks after germination to the main paddy rice field.
Prepare seed bed that is big enough to take the number of seeds that you want to plant. Cover the soil with nylon after spraying the seeds in other to; while looking out for soil borne disease. It will maintain moisture and temperature
But be sure to treat the land first against nematodes attack and soil pathogens.
Weeding can be carried out 2 months after transplanting. And after the next 1 month before harvest. Meaning weeding should be done twice before maturity.
It is possible to control weed in lowland but in upland you will have to tackle weeds because rice is not a good competitor with weeds. Non selective herbicides for killing weeds are; paraforce, round-up, force-up etc.
Another set of chemical to use in rice farms are; Ricepro, Sparmine and good selective herbicides. They contain propanol and 2-4-D that helps in enriching the farm with manure after killing the weeds.
5 bags of fertilizer is needed for a hectare but some lands need fewer bags, maybe 2 bags of NPK 15: 15: 15 for a hectare. Apply fertilizer 1 month after transplanting.
You have to prepare yourself against pest. Do not allow birds rampaging to take you by surprise. Birds can cause serious damage for just a day, scarecrow is not enough. Most rice farmers are still looking for the best method to use in tackling birds. I read somewhere that there is a new colour changing tape for scaring birds in USA.
The use of net to control birds can only be effective in a small farm because it will be very expensive on a large expense of land. Someone talked about bird force but whether it won’t be harmful to the crops is what you should find out.
Many things can contribute to leaves becoming yellow;
Oxygen starvation/shading: shortage of oxygen can cause yellowing of leaves. When rice matures the bottom of their leaves become heavily shaded within after sometime yellowing occurs. If this happens in the nursery when you transfer the seedlings to the main field air will circulate and also penetrate well, the yellowing colour will fade on their own.
Fungus: this is a small circular brown lesions on the leaf, they become larger with time. Use chemical to tackle the activities of fungus.
Low Magnesium: you will notice this when the older leaves shows interveinal yellowing leaves. Spray Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate).
Nitrogen/Potassium Deficiency: the whole rice plant will turn completely yellow due to lack of nitrogen while potassium will display a bright yellow margins on the green leaves. Apply adequate fertilizer in the farm.
Combined harvester should be used in harvesting matured rice because it can both harvest and thresh rice at the same time. Rice matures between 4 – 5 months so if you plant by April you should be harvesting by August, depending on the variety. Sone variety like the hybrid seeds matures in 3 months.
The colour of the leaves will become brown from the original green colour that it was when it is matured for harvest. Don’t delay your harvest so as not to give room for peat destruction.
You can harvest and sell to millers. But adding value to harvested rice is more profitable than selling them outright.
There are many things you can do in regards to rice business:
- Cultivating and harvesting
- Milling and processing of rice
- Rice distributorship
- Bagging and wholesaler
Land it could either be both or lease. When buying source for a land in the villages which can be bought cheap maybe #100,000 a hectare. Leasing is not bad because it is a crop that can be harvested within a year.
Plough: this can be carried out twice #7,000 × 2 = #14,000/ha. For acre ploughing is #3,000
Harrowing: this can be done once #7,000
Seedling planting 50kg by planter and 80-100kg broadcasting
Herbicide (selective and non selective) #1,500 – #2,500 per bottle.4 bottles is enough for a hectare
Fertilizer (5 bags)
Rice farming has a shorter lifespan like maize. There is nothing like intercropping in rice farm. If you want to learn about maize farming, click here.
As a beginner, it will be ideal to start rice farming on a small scale before expanding. By then you would have learnt all that it takes to be a rice farmer.
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