The profit prospects of rice farming in Nigeria is huge. Rice farming can bring the wealth you have always longed for, it is another cereal crop that is consumed by nearly half of the population of the world. In Nigeria, statistics have shown that Nigerians are the highest consumers of rice. That was why when importation was stopped, the price shot up which became a burden to Nigerians. The Nigerian government did this to stop importation and equip farmers to boost the Nation production and stop overly dependency on the importation of food items that we as a nation can produce.
Benefits of Rice farming in Nigeria
Provision of food: it has become a routine, that in most families that rice is specially made for Sundays and for festive seasons like Christmas and Sallah.
Provision of Employment: The teeming unemployed youths in our country can seize this opportunity and make themselves relevant to the society. Since the desired white collar jobs are not forth coming, one can go into farming and make a living from it.
Source of income: Rice can be produced and traded in the market in exchange for money.
RICE FARMING IN NIGERIA
Land Preparation: This can be done either manually or mechanically, clear the bushes with the use of cutlasses and remove stomp, make ridges with hoes. Ploughing, harrowing and ridging can also be done mechanically.
Varieties or cultivars: Rice varieties or cultivars includes swamp rice (Toma, BG 79 and GFB24) and the upland rice (Agbede).
Climatic and soil requirement: For rice to yield well, it requires a temperature of over 20◦C, 75cm- 120cm of rainfall for upland rice and over 250cm for swamp rice, and light fertile soil.
Planting: Rice can be propagated by seed, and this can be done either manually or mechanically and requires 65kg/ha at two to three seed per hole. Rice can be planted in southern Nigeria around April and May. In the North, it can be planted between August and September. It can be planted by broadcasting (spreading), sowing or drilling of seeds at 2-4cm deep.
Nursery Practices: The swamp variety requires nursery which is done in fertile, water-soaked soil. Seeds are broadcasted, after a period of four to five days germination begins. The seeds should be transplanted between seven to eight weeks of growth to the field. Seeds are sown in the nursery around May-June and transplanted in July- August to the field. Spacing is 25cm-30cm apart depending on the variety.
- Fertilizer application: Apply 150kg or three bags of NPK fertilizer per hectare at planting by broadcasting
- Weeding: Ensure the rapid growth of rice by weeding he farm regularly
- Pest and Diseases: Pest and diseases can be prevented or controlled by spraying with the appropriate chemicals.
- Supplying and thinning: These can be done where applicable
Maturity period: Rice matures between four to seven months, depending on the variety.
Harvesting: The Red heads of rice are cut off with a knife, sickle or combined harvester.
PROCESSING OF RICE
Sun drying: Sun drying is done immediately after harvesting for four to three days.
Threshing: This is the separation of the grains from the stalk either by beating with a stick, treading with feet or by the use of mechanical threshers.
Winnowing: After threshing has been done, the chaff or unwanted dust and remains of stalks are removed by winnowing. This is a fanning operation usually done by throwing the grains in the air to blow away the dust and other residues. After winnowing the grains of the rice remains enclosed in the husk to form. This is called padding.
Parboiling: This is a process used to reduce the breakage of grains during pounding. It also helps in brings some vitamins to the outer layer of the grains. This process also reduces the labor required to remove the husk. The paddy rice is heated by putting it into boiling water for about 12-15 hours. The rice swells and the husks are forced apart. The parboiled rice is now sun dried.
Hulling: This involves the removal of husk from the grains. The grains are pounded gently to remove the expanded husks. The husks are then separated from the rice by winnowing.
Storage: Rice can be stored as paddy rice or in processed form in silos or jute bags.