Rice farming is beyond making money because Rice in itself is a life saver. It is a global food and it has helped to sustain human existence for centuries. Rice farming is a business every agro-entrepreneur must have plan to start as it is a gold mine. Rice is consumed as staple food by a large part of the world’s human population. It is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa (or Oryza glaberrima for African rice).
Rice (a monocot) is normally grown as an annual plant. But in the tropical areas, the rice plants can survive as a perennial and can produce a ratoon crop for up to 30 years. Rice is the most popular staple food and it is used in many different ways.
A major amount or portion of sugarcane and maize crops are used for purposes other than human consumption. But rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake. Rice is providing more than one-fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by human being.
Rice farming is the cultivation of the rice plant for human consumption. Rice farming is well-suited to countries and regions with low labor costs and high rainfall. It requires ample water and it is laborintensive. Although, it can be grown almost anywhere (even on mountain area or steep hill with the use of water-controlling terrace system. It is a profitable business to venture into.
However, in Nigeria, Rice is a popularly consumed food in many homes, events, and public places.
Despite the consumption rate, it’s sad that only a few percent of the rice consumed is produced in Nigeria. But, there has been an upturn since the closure of land borders for food security purposes by the Nigerian government. Also, the World Bank, Central Bank, and other governmental bodies are beginning to boost the agricultural industry by providing support to smallholder rice farmers in various ways.
Benefits of Rice to human existence.
Serves as source of food: Rice is the most consumed staple meal in the world. It is also the oldest known food that is consumed worldwide. This extraordinary demand for the cash crop makes it highly lucrative for any farmer in Nigeria, Africa, or around the world to venture into, especially as it is also one of the most lucrative farming businesses in Nigeria.
Production of Rice flour: Rice flour is made from grounding raw rice. It can be purchased in flour form or ground using a blender, grain mills or some traditional pounding techniques. It is usually used as a glutten-free alternative to wheat. Some products that are made from rice flour are rice flour cake, rice noodles, and edible rice paper.
Beer production/Liquor: Liquor, an alcoholic drink, especially distilled spirit, can be made from rice. The liquor that’s processed from rice is widely called Rice wine. It can be made at home or in a processing facility from the fermentation of rice starch that has been converted to sugar. It is widely consumed in Asia, and has an average alcohol content.
Systems of Rice Farming.
There are two different ways of planting Rice, they are: wet farming and dry/semidry farming. Semi-dry, dry and wet systems are generally followed in rice farming.
Wet farming: In wet system, the rice crop is grown with assured and abundant water supply either by rain or by irrigation. plough the field thoroughly and puddle with 3-5 cm of standing water in the field. The ideal depth of puddling is found to be around 10 cm in clay soils, clay-loamy soils.
Level the land after puddling, and doing this is important to facilitate a uniform distribution of water and fertilizers.
Dry farming: This systems of rice farming depends on rains, and generally do not have supplementary irrigation facilities. For rice farming in these system, the field should be prepared by giving several ploughings and harrowing. While ploughing and harrowing, add lots of organic contents into it. You should add organic contents into the soil at least 2-4 weeks before sowing or planting.
How to start a Rice farming business.
- Select a perfect land for rice farming
- Prepare land for farming
- Select the best varieties
- Irrigation system and wetting
- Apply necessary fertilizer
- Control of Pests and Diseases
Selection of land
In starting this business, since Rice requires slightly more water to produce than other grains. Therefore, it is advisable to choose lands with water retention capacities, such as swampy (clay), or loamy soil that contains organic matter. Rice can be grown in different environments as long as there is water. But, it’s advisable to plant in ecological areas where rice is traditionally grown such as Kebbi, Benue, Ekiti, Jigawa, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano, and other states known for rice production in Nigeria. Choose lands that are fertile and are high in water retention capacity; lands that are swampy or contains organic matter like loamy soil.
Preparation of land for the rice farming
Whatever the soil type is, the land must be prepared perfectly for growing rice. Making sure that the soil is in it’s best physical condition for crop growth and the soil surface is level. Land preparation for rice farming involves plowing and harrowing to ’till’ or dig-up, mix and level the soil. Also, tilling the soil helps with weed control, and also allows the seeds to be planted at the right depth. And, leveling the surface of the soil helps in reducing the amount of water wasted by uneven pockets of too-deep water or exposed soil.
Selection of the best varieties for rice farming
There are many varieties or cultivars of rice available throughout the world. Rice varieties and types are divided into different categories depending on culinary preferences, characteristics and also vary regionally. Depending on each region, there are hundreds or thousands or even more rice varieties available and new varieties are being developed continuously. In case of regional rice varieties, there are countless rice varieties available.
Each of these varieties are found in specific regions. In case of culinary preferences, the varieties of rice are generally classified as long, medium and short grained. The long grain rice tend to remain intact after cooking. The medium grain rice becomes more sticky and is generally used for sweet dishes. And the short-grain rice is often used for rice pudding. And within these 3 varieties there are several cultivars available around the world. Many different rice varieties available depends on the characteristics or color. Brown, white, red, black and purple colored rice varieties are also available.
There are also many different improved or hybrid rice varieties available. These improved varieties are highly productive and yield more than the traditional varieties.
However, one have to choose a rice variety depending on it’s availability in one’s location and also consider the production purpose while selecting a variety. But, there should always be a focus on the local varieties which are easily and readily available in one’s area.
Planting of the rice farming
After the land has been prepared, the next step is to plant the seed. This planting can be done in two ways; direct seeding and use of nursery and subsequently transplanted.
Direct seeding involves dibbing or broadcasting dry seed or pre-germinated seeds by hand or by machine. In rainfed and deep-water ecosystems, dry seed is manually broadcast unto the soil surface and then incorporated either by ploughing or harrowing while the sun is still dry.
While, in irrigated areas, seeds are normally pre-germinated prior to broadcasting. With direct seeding, weeds can begin to affect the plant at the early stage, but with the use of herbicides, they can be controlled. When the seedlings are raised in the nursery, they are transferred from seedbed to the wet field. It requires less seed and is an effective method to control weeds. Seedlings can be transplanted by machine or hand and it’s the most popular technique across Asia.
Wetting and Irrigation of the rice farming business
Cultivated rice is extremely sensitive to water shortages. Maintaining a flooded condition in the field is good for ensuring sufficient water during the growth period. In rainfed rice farming conditions, you don’t have to think much about it and nature will do the rest. But in case of dry or semi-dry conditions, you have to water the field regularly. Remember, you must have to keep the field flooded for up to 2 weeks after transplanting.
Application of fertilizer to the rice farming business
There are different fertilizers that can be applied at different stages of the growth of the rice. This means you need to apply specific nutrients at different times. Applying additional fertilizers is needed for maximum yield. Don’t apply all these chemical fertilizers into the soil at once while preparing the soil. Apply all the organic fertilizers and half of the chemical fertilizers during preparing the soil. And then apply remaining half chemical fertilizers twice with 30 days interval.
Weeding: Weeds can be managed through hand weeding or herbicides application. Controlling weeds is very important for rice farming. Weeds consume nutrients from the soil, so you have to remove them from the field. Manual weeding or chemical weeding both are used for commercial rice farming business.
Control of pests and diseases
Rice plants are open to some pests and diseases, just like many other commercial crops. The rice plant has a wide array of ‘enemies’ in the field including rodents, harmful insects, viruses and diseases. Understanding the interactions among pests, natural enemies, host plants, other organisms, and the environment allows farmers to determine what if any pest management may be necessary.
It is always good to keep good contact with an agriculture specialist in your area for controlling all these pests, diseases or other problems. Pests, viruses are enemies to rice plants and can reduce the yield or value of the crop. Climatic factors, improper irrigation, overuse of insecticides, weather condition and high rates of nitrogen fertilizer application exposes rice plant to diseases. So the sooner the treatment of this plant and fight against these elements, the best for the rice farm.
Depending on the variety planted, the rice plants reach maturity at around 105 to 150 days after crop establishment. One can then start harvesting the crop when the moisture content into the grain reduces. Rice harvesting activities include cutting, stacking, handling, threshing, cleaning and hauling. All these harvesting activities can be done either by hand or by using a machine. Good harvesting methods help to maximize grain yield and minimize grain damage and deterioration.
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