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Rice Farming
Rice Farming

Rice Farming

Behind bread, rice has to be the next most staple food in Nigeria and it is edged out by bread because the former comes readymade. If not, rice would surely have held top spot. Today, there is rarely a place you would getto where rice is not revered and held in high regards. Millions of bags of rice are eaten by households all over the world on a daily basis and the market is not waning at all. Your party is not complete if you have not offered your guests rice, therefore, going by the amount of parties that hold in a regular week (raging from funeral patties and wedding ceremonies to birthday parties), you would be amazed to know the amount of tones of the oryza sativa that is being consumed. Simply put, rice business is very lucrative and has a very large market and demand on ground. With the main problems of most business being how to get demand for their wares, doesn’t this just save you a lot of hassle? In Nigeria alone, on top of the fact that we locally produce most of the rice we consume which is some stunning 5.5 million tonnes, we still need to import 1.9 million tonnes of this commodity to meet consumer needs. This means that there is space for you and a list of other investors to still join the market and make it big in there. The local market isn’t satisfied enough with the quantity of rice on ground. Get in there and contribute your quota to the locally produced rice quantities and make a decent income while at it. Doesn’t that just sound good? This business is so productive, even the richest man in Africa plans to invest up to the tune of $1 billion in it. For a successful businessman to want to throw that much into the rice farming practice, you should know that this is really a field of money. Different cultures all over the world have come to appreciate rice in different ways by spawning up a series of never ending recipes for the food item. Today, we have jollof rice (from West Africa), fried rice, peppered rice, tuwo shinkafa (from Hausa tribe in Nigeria), rice pudding, carri (mauritus), congee (southeast asia), curd rice (India), curry rice, ofada rice and a host of others to pick from. Looking closely, this also means one other good thing – should you choose to go into the business, there is an international market waiting for you asides the local market. Hey, a little foreign exchange just brings profits in business to life, doesn’t it? Rice business is truly one that requires a lot of planning , time, hard work and commitment but when ouyou realise that rice sales all over the world are only projected to go up and not down, translating that into the profits you stand to gain, I’m very sure that would outweigh all the negativities that you might have thought about. Enough said already. Let’s assume you are now fully convinced in the rice business and you would like to taste of the ‘white money’ too. How do you go about setting yourself up?

1. Land If you would be going into rice farming, one thing you should first consider is the land to be used. Rice does not grow on any kind of soil and would not do so well on alternates to the real swamplands that the crop is optimised for. For rice plantation on a commercial scale, you would no doubt need a large expanse of land. Get as much land at stretch as you would need and even if you don’t have the full money on ground, agree with the landlord to pay in instalments and trust me, your rice yields would cover for this subsequently. You could also source land in different ways under the current land tenure system meaning that instead of outright buying, you could get a long term lease agreement with your landlord. After getting the land, we need to consider…

2. Capital Unless we want to deliberately lie to you, we would not tell you that rice is not capital intensive because it is. To go into the commercial production of rice you would need a lot of money to start up. If you don’t have all the money, perform a sound feasibility study and draw up a great business plan which you can produce to banks and investors. They also know how much money can be made from the business and seeing you as a ready mind, would be more than willing to help you.

3. Cultivation Now that you have your land and capital to be used, the next thing to consider is hiring labour to start cultivating your rice seeds. While your labour would include general farm workers, make sure to get rice experts too to help you check out your land, the seeds and every other needs before cultivation starts. You do not want to get halfway into rice season before knowing that your soil has a fungus that would blight out nearly half of your plantation. Source for good rice seedlings and prepare them in a suitable nursery. After about 2 to 4 weeks of nursery, your rice would be ready for transplanting onto the main farm. Rice is easily subdued by weed and you have to start cutting them as soon as they show up. Don’t wait till weeks after as you might end up losing some rice plants in the process. Apply herbicides where necessary and manual weeding too from time to time.

4. Harvesting Some three to four months after you planted your rice seedlings would be prime time for you to harvest. Make sure you harvest early because rice is susceptible to some diseases when it has been left on the farm for a longer time than stipulated. Be observant of the colour changes that the leaves would give you and once they turn brown from green, don’t hesitate to bring in the harvest.

5. Processing After harvest, you still need to carry out some basic processes to make your produce up to standard with what is being demanded in markets. You would need to dry the harvested rice in the sun for about five days to completely eliminate moisture after which you separate the hull of the rice from its grain (hulling). When hulling is done with, parboil the rice and voila! It is ready for distribution. Getting buyers for your product wouldn’t be a problem since the demand is high so you can take it to the market yourself. However, you could have a list of customers that you would work for as a contract supplier which ensures an even faster transaction for you. Right now, the only thing stopping you from having your own rice farm is you. You have all you need here.