Rice farming is one of the most lucrative agriculture businesses one can embark on. Everybody loves Rice, be it jollof rice, fried rice, coconut rice, white rice, etc. Rice is always a constant in our diet. The demand for rice is ever-present and steadily increasing.
Rice is the most consumed staple food item in many countries, including Thailand, China, Indonesia, and Nigeria. A recently conducted study has shown that Nigeria consumes about 5.5 million tons of rice annually. Infact, the President of the African Development Bank, Mr. Akiwunmi Adesina, once said, “If you are looking to invest in Nigeria, the largest Economy in Africa, you should consider rice farming which is the most profitable in the Agriculture sector…It is the most profitable thing that anyone can be doing in Nigeria today.”
This article will highlight the processes involved in rice farming and how to go about starting your own farm.
1. Get a Land
To begin farming, you will need to buy (or lease) a flat land, make sure the land you’re acquiring is composed of a good amount of clay and organic matter (loamy soil). Some state governments has mapped out some acres of land to encourage farmers. You can visit your state Ministry of Agriculture and find out what programs they have in place to support rice farmers. Anyways, the land should not be acidic and should have good water retention capacity. Also to keep up the nutrient of the farmland, legumes should be planted on the land after the rice planting season.
2. Source For The Best Rice Seedlings
It is necessary to look for the best variety of rice seedlings for planting. This will go a long way to hasten the growth period of the rice plants and increase their resistance to diseases and pest attack. The variety of seed chosen should depend on the type and condition of the farmland.
Some common varieties of rice seedling recommended by the Institute of Agricultural and Research Training are; Faro 38 (IRAT 133), FARO 39 (IRAT 144), FARO 45 (ITA 257), FARO 46 (ITA 150).
3. Seed Planting
Rice farming requires plenty of water so it is advisable to irrigate or plant during rainy seasons. Before planting the seeds, you should ’till’ the land either manually or using tractors (depending on the scale of production).
There are two possible ways you can plant rice.
You can prepare a nursery bed and plant the rice seedlings in a nursery until they germinate. To do this, you must solarize the soil of the nursery before planting. Soil solarization involves heating the soil by covering it with a transparent polyethylene to control soil borne diseases. After 3 to 4 weeks you can now transplant the germinated rice from the nursery to the farmland.
Another way is to plant the seeds directly in the tilled land. However, you should note that rice germinated in a nursery tend to have higher yield and resistance to disease as compared to rice planted directly on the farm.
After planting, all that is left is to care for and protect your rice plants using standard farming practices such as weeding, and application of fertilizers.
4. After about 4-6 months from planting (depending on variety), the rice will be ready for harvest. You recognize this when the rice plants change color from green to a straw-like color. It is best to start harvesting as soon as they reach maturity to avoid birds or pest destruction. Harvesting could be done mechanically with the use of machines, or by manual labor (depending on the size of the farm).
Starting Rice farming is a bit on the high side but very lucrative when embarked on. No business survives without capital. To encourage increased participation in agriculture among young people, the government introduced several incentives in the form of loans and grants. A World Bank assisted project, FADAMA, also targets rice farmers to make things easier and increase production.