Rice farming is one of the most lucrative businesses that anyone can start and make profit. The popularity of rice at events and ceremonies such as weddings, birthdays and so on, has made rice farming a very profitable business for anyone who ventures into it.
In Africa, and more importantly in Nigeria, rice stands as one of the most consumed food crops among people of all ages. Despite this glaring and undeniable fact, it is saddening that the agricultural sector still suffers a high degree of neglect from the government and citizens alike.
This is quite despicable as this same sector contributed all the nation has today, prior to the discovery of crude oil in the 50s. This is probably because oil has more value in the international market, or probably because rice it seems to be a tedious and backbreaking activity. Irrespective of these reasons, rice remains one of the most luxurious crops to cultivate in Nigeria.
Why rice farming is lucrative
It is common knowledge that Rice is the most popular food in Nigeria, in the most populous country of Africa. Along the years, Nigeria’s rice consumption has been steadily on the increase. And the top reason for this is that rice remains one of the major types of food which almost every Nigerian eat daily.
Every year, Nigerians consume an average of 5.5 million tons of rice, but only 3.6 million tons of these 5.5 million tons are locally produced while the rest is usually imported from other countries. The local farmers who produce rice, do it for their relatively subsistence consumption.
Sadly, this is because quite a handful of them lack desirable technical know-how required to produce rice on a large scale. As a result they end up producing mainly local rice i.e ofada rice.
However, since it has been proven that the demand for rice is very high, it shows that there exists an untapped goldmine in its commercial growth and it comes as no surprise that the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote has decided to invest in the industry and would soon launch his rice products to the African market.
Places Where Rice Is Grown in Nigeria
It is known that rice is one crop that requires special geographical and atmospheric conditions to grow. As a result, it is not everywhere it is planted that it will grow and survive. It is however known to survive in the following states.
For now, this is the list of the states in Nigeria where Rice planting and production is more pronounced unlike the case in other states, and the names they call their Nigerian Rice:
- Kano State- UMZA Rice
- Gombe State- Mas Rice Mill
- Niger State- Mama Happy Rice
- Kebbi State- Labana Rice
- Ebonyi State- Ebonyi Rice
- Anambra State- Anambra Rice
- Nasarawa State- Olam Rice
- Ogun State- Ofada Rice
- Ekiti State- Igbemo Rice.
In any of the above-listed states, it is very certain that if utmost attention is given to a rice farm, and there’s no pest or disease breakout, there’ll be a rich bumper harvest. It is trite to note that rice production requires no formal knowledge in Agricultural science and thus, anyone can choose to start a rice farm today. They are he best place in Nigeria for rice farming.
How to start rice farming in Nigeria
Here are the steps to start rice farming in Nigeria:
1. Choose the right land
Rice is a peculiar crop and it requires certain special soils. Advisably, rice should be planted in areas where it is traditionally cultivated. The soils in these areas are known to have high water retention capacity and are thus a mixture of clayey, loamy and sometimes swampy. Planting rice on a sandy soil land/terrain is an effort in futility.
2. Prepare the land for Rice Cultivation
This is the process whereby the piece of land to be used is made ready for the planting season. It is at this stage that the land is cleared of all weeds and all trees are equally uprooted. Other minor weeds are equally exposed to scorching sunlight to get burnt. This is usually done in the dry season in anticipation of the planting season which is preferably in the rainy season. Fertilizers and manure are also added to the soil at this stage.
3. Choose the right Rice Specie
There are quite a number of rice species and it is paramount that an intending farmer picks one he desires to cultivate. The choice made by this farmer would determine the outcome of the harvest most times.
4. Timing of Planting
The period where the rice is sowed is of utmost importance as it varies from region to region. In the Northern part of Nigeria, rice is planted around Mid-May to Mid-June while it is planted earlier in the south where it is planted any time between the middle of March to mid-April.
5. Planting Methodology
Rice can either be planted directly into the rice field or firstly planted in the nursery and later transplanted to the fields. It should be noted that these methods have varying surrounding modalities and systems surrounding them. It should be noted also that the spacing system for the two types of planting differs and any little slip or mistake can adversely affect the yield.
6. Fertilizer Application
It isn’t a new thing that soil supplements will be added to the field to boost the yield. As a reult, a rice farmer must know the appropriate fertilizer to apply. The right quantity and the right moment to apply it to the field in order to optimize the output. To avoid confusion, it is advisable to visit any nearby agro store.
7. Weeding of the Field
Weeding is simply the elimination of plants that are not planted and possess threats to the growth of the originally planted crop. It is thus not debatable that a farmer must from time to time eliminate these weeds on his or her field.
8. Pest control
Pests would always invade any thriving farm with an intent to reduce it to nothing. However, the farmer must always be at alert and never lose sight of potential pest attacks. As soon as he sees any, he must take steps to eliminate these pests.
After 1-8 above is successfully seen, the planted rice would after about 3 months turn from white colour to brown. This shows that the rice is ready for harvesting. At this point, the farmer would decide to either harvest for individual consumption or sell to the rice mills for commercial purposes.
10. Marketing your rice
You should have a marketing plan for your rice. If you have a large farm that produce very large quantity of rice. You may need to recruit an expert marker to help in marketing. Marketing is very important. But if you are producing small scale, you can visit wholesalers and re-sellers around you to market your rice.