Rice farming is the cultivation of rice from seed to a grass plant and the grain is eaten worldwide. Consumption is dated far back as 5,000BC making it one of the oldest known food source. A popular staple, it is in high demand with huge markets in Africa, Asia, Europe, India and China. There are over 40, 000 varieties with China the largest consumer.
Types of rice
Types of rice are short-grain rice, medium-grain and long-grain rice. Each type has distinct characteristics in texture, size and cooking time. Some are Arborio rice, white rice, Basmati, Bomba, Black rice, brown rice, glutinous rice, red ice, jasmine rice, wild rice, sushi rice.
- Arborio rice
- White rice
- Black rice
- Brown rice
- Glutinous rice
- Red ice
- Jasmine rice
- Wild rice
- Sushi rice
Global rice production
Milled rice will exceed 496 million tons in 2020. Asia is the dominant factor in global rice production leading producers are Vietnam, Malaysia, China and India. Others include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand.
Top rice producers
Business opportunity in rice production is found in the huge demand. Consumption accounts for 85% while other opportunities are production of liquor-beer, rice-flour. Rice is ground in a grain mill or home blender and resultant product is flour. The flour is used in many culinary applications to make rice noodles or cake. Rice-liquor is an alcoholic drink made from fermentation process while consumption rice goes through a milling process.
There are many challenges facing rice farmers in Nigeria. Difficulties are financial constraints, poor storage facility and huge labor requirement. Others are difficulty in getting healthy seeds, distance to rice mill, poor farming implements. Others are low knowledge of modern farming techniques, poor land choice, marketing difficulties.
Challenges facing rice farmers in Nigeria
- financial constraints
- poor storage facility
- huge labor requirement
- sourcing healthy seeds
- distance to rice mill
- poor farming implements
- low knowledge of modern farming techniques
- poor land choice
- marketing difficulties
Marketing difficulties: has to do with the sharp practices of middlemen. Others are stiff competition with smuggled rice regular price fluctuations.
Infrastructure problems: include inaccessible roads, poor subventions, transportation or market facility. Storage challenges are poor storage facility, remote area challenges like theft, kidnap and banditry.
Financial challenges: most rice farmers in Nigeria are rural farmers with limited land space. Financial difficulties include high interest rates, poor credit history and illiteracy.
Start rice farming in Nigeria
Nigerians love rice they eat it at least 5 times a week. Local production hardly meets demand and importation is highly prohibited. This offers a lucrative avenue for smugglers who take advantage of land borders. A farmer interested in rice production is guaranteed a huge market and premium price.
Things to consider before starting a rice farm
There are a few things to consider before starting the farm. Site selection is very important to the success of the enterprise. Others are purchasing good quality seed, farm management, labor, cost of production and transportation and purchase of equipment. Situating the farm close to an existing rice mill is not only smart but highly productive.
- Site selection
- Purchasing good quality seed
- Farm management
- Cost of production
- Purchase of equipment
Nursery Plants or Seedlings
There are two ways to start rice farming. The farmer could purchase nursery plants or produce rice seedling in a nursery. Purchasing rice sprouts is infinitely easier than starting from scratch. It requires less technical skill, more funds and higher success rate.
Site selection is very important in the farming process. Suitable land should have adequate drainage, good water retention, space and appropriate weather conditions. Make sure the land has good organic matter, fertile sandy/loamy soil.
Rice is cultivated on swampy land or wetlands in low or high land areas. Soil management includes weeding, introduction of herbicides, spraying, transplanting rice seedlings. Make sure the nutritional requirements are meet at each growth stage of the crop.
Rice is a staple throughout the world accounting for billions of tons of the product consumed annually. Farmers earn fair wage producing rice however they face many challenges. Challenges are initial funding, good farmland, high labor costs and government regulations.
Others are few milling plants, different variety of rice including distance to the market. More difficulties are sourcing starter sprouts, adequate water, insect pests of rice, storage facility. Insects, pests and diseases account for estimate 1/3 loss in crop yield. Proper crop management includes, pest control, regular spraying and pest resistant rice.
Insect pests of rice
The type of pests that cause farm loss are easily divided into two groups. We have pests that attack nursery crops and those on main field. The insect’s usually swarm and feed on the rice. They cause serious damage with great economic loss for the farmer. Common insect pests of rice are caterpillars, grasshoppers, thrips and rice skippers.
There are a number of pests that decimate rice nursery. Common ones are green leafhopper, swarm caterpillar, paddy stem borer, case worms and thrips.
- green leafhopper
- swarm caterpillar
- paddy stem borer
- case worms
Main Field Pests
Main field pests are Gail midge, paddy stem borer, thrips and ear head bug. Others are white-backed plant hopper, mealy bug and green leafhopper. More include brown plant leafhopper, grasshopper, whorl maggo, spiny beetle or rice hispa. We have horned caterpillar, yellow hairy caterpillar, rice skipper, leaf folder, swarming caterpillar.
- Gail midge
- paddy stem borer
- ear head bug
- white-backed plant hopper
- mealy bug
- green leafhopper
- brown plant leafhopper
- whorl maggo
- spiny beetle or rice hispa
- horned caterpillar
- yellow hairy caterpillar
- rice skipper
- leaf folder
- swarming caterpillar
Preventive measure is growing hardy disease and insect resistant rice. Others are regular spraying of bio degradable insecticides to kill the pests. Only use certified agents and specialists in pest eradication.
Depending on the verity harvesting is done in 4-6 months. Capital requirements include cost of labor, equipment, farm management and transportation. Farmers located close to rice mill only have to get the product to the mill.
The rice is then sorted, processes at the mill weighed and bagged. The amount of rice paddy produced, cost of production and price of produce with determine the profit. Potential profit estimates taking into account different variable is about 45% of investment.