Rice Farming in Nigeria: Guide on How to Start

Do you want to join the league of entrepreneurs who are creating a positive economic impact by embracing rice farming? If your answer is yes, then you need to read this article as we are about to show you how to start a profitable rice farming business.

Rice is the second most common cereal next to maize. Oryza sativa; it’s botanical name, is both very nutritious and a rich food choice anytime for many Nigerians. Rice is Nigeria’s most consumed staple foods. And this has led to an increased demand for the food and currently stands at an annual growth rate of 5 percent. Nigerians consume around 5.5 million tonnes of rice annually, and of these only 3.6 is produced locally. Meaning that we are unable to meet the demands for rice consumption in Nigeria. As a result, the country spends roughly N365 billion per annum to import the remaining percentage. Given this figures, Nigeria is said to be the world’s largest importer of rice.

Varieties of Locally Grown Rice

The following are some varieties of rice grown in Nigeria.

  • Fadama rice
  • Upland rice
  • Capital requirements

Rice farming, just like most other agro businesses is pretty capital intensive. There has to be a large land space for it to be successful. For your rice production business, the start up expenses will include, land, supplies, basic equipments, packaging, storage, transportation, operating costs, labour and many other outlays.

Rice Farming in Nigeria: Guide on How to Start

Steps on how to start your rice farming business

Create A Business Plan

Rice farming requires adequate planning and conducting feasibility study. One of the ways to ensure that you consider every aspect of the business is by drafting a business plan.

The business plan will serve as a guide on the steps to take to make the vision achievable. While preparing your business plan, you will take into account important elements of the business such as location, marketing, funding, etc. The business plan is a breathing document that can be updated at any time as the business grows.

In addition, with a well-written business plan, you can access loans from financial institutions or seek funding from investors

Register Your Business

After creating a business plan, the next step is to register your business. In rice farming, aside registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), you will need to register with agencies like the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), e.t.c

The Corporate Affairs Commission is responsible for registering businesses in Nigeria and it can be done online. There are different business structures to choose from and there are different factors that will influence the type of business structure you choose to register your business.

To get your NAFDAC registration, visit the official website of NAFDAC to start and complete the process.

Secure Funding

Rice farming is capital intensive as earlier mentioned and requires huge investment in terms of human resources and finance. If you don’t have enough funds to start this business, you can approach investors or meet with partners who have the same vision as you do.

Also, as part of the Nigerian government’s effort to boost the food supply for her citizens, funding is readily available for agricultural businesses. Therefore, you can access government grants or loans at low-interest rates from commercial or microfinance banks.

Furthermore, there are other benefits and supports asides from money available for agric focused businesses like tech support. To access these opportunities, you need a well-written business plan. If your funding is secured or you have the requisite capital to start this business, you are on your way to becoming a bonafide rice farmer in Nigeria.

Reasons why rice production is a viable business option in Nigeria

High returns on investment

You can generate millions of naira annually from rice production business. In a single planting season you can make up to N1 million from just a single acre of land

Matures fast

The planting cycle involved in rice production doesn’t cover more than a 6 month period. Once mature, the crop turns from green to light brown.

High demand

Rice is a staple diet in Nigeria and is being consumed everyday by almost everybody in the country. This level of consumption has made the demand for rice very high in Nigeria.

High yield

Rice farming has very high yield. With good farming practices you can harvest more than 100 bags of rice from a single acre of land.

Challenges facing rice production business in Nigeria

Inspite of the huge potential for profitability in this business, there are however a number of prevalent challenges facing rice production business in Nigeria. Following are a few of them;

Capital requirements

Rice production business requires huge capital involvements. This means that huge capital outlays is required to set up and manage a rice production business.

High importation

Despite government’s efforts to halt rice importation into the country, it still continues to pose a threat to local producers as it sometimes sells at cheaper rates than the locally produced ones.

Crop pests and diseases

Crop pests like birds continues to be a challenge for optimum yield during rice farming.

Steps on how to cultivate rice

Step 1 – Choose A Quality Seed

The first essential step to rice production is seed selection. There are different varieties of rice seeds suited for various ecologies such as lowland, upland, deep water, mangrove swamp, etc.

A good rice seed is resistant to disease and yield much grain during harvest. Therefore, you need to choose a quality seed suitable for the environment it will be grown.

Step 2 – Choose The Right Land

After choosing the seed to plant, the next is to choose a suitable land area. Rice requires slightly more water to produce than other grains. Therefore, it is advisable to choose lands with water retention capacities, such as swampy (clay), or loamy soil that contains organic matter.

Rice can be grown in different environments as long as there is water. But, it’s advisable to plant in ecological areas where rice is traditionally grown such as Kebbi, Benue, Ekiti, Jigawa, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano, and other states known for rice production in Nigeria.

Step 3 – Land Preparation

For rice farming, land preparation needs to be done to put the soil in the best condition for the best yield. It involves plowing and harrowing to till and level the soil.

You can till with a hoe, tractor, or other machinery. This will allow the seeds to be planted at the right depth and help with weed control. Land leveling is also important and should be done as it will help the seedling become more established and reduce erosion.

The land for rice farming is better prepared from November to February when the rainy season is over. As the rainy season approaches, the land would have been ready for planting. However, if your land is in the savannah region, your land preparation can start in February.

Step 4 – Choose A Planting Method

After the land has been prepared, the next step is to plant the seed. This planting can be done in two ways; direct seeding and use of nursery and subsequently transplanted.

Direct seeding involves dibbing or broadcasting dry seed or pre-germinated seeds by hand or by machine. In rainfed and deep-water ecosystems, dry seed is manually broadcast unto the soil surface and then incorporated either by ploughing or harrowing when the sun is still dry while in irrigated areas, seeds are normally pre-germinated prior to broadcasting.

With direct seeding, weeds can begin to affect the plant at the early stage, but with the use of herbicides, they can be controlled.

When the seedlings are raised in the nursery, they are transferred from seedbed to the wet field. It requires less seed and is an effective method to control weeds. Seedlings can be transplanted by machine or hand and it’s the most popular technique across Asia.

Step 5 – Water Management

Rice is highly sensitive to water shortages and the process of water maintenance differs from one ecological area to another. Therefore, you need to maintain the water level in the field up to 5cm one week after transplanting until grain matures.

Step 6 – Apply Fertilizer

There are different fertilizers that can be applied at different stages of the growth of the rice. This means you need to apply specific nutrients at different times.

You need to speak to a pedologist to advise you on the right organic fertilizer to use, the right quantity and the right time to use them to ensure you have the best yield.

Step 7 – Control Weed And Pest

Weed, pests and viruses are enemies to rice plants and can reduce the yield or value of the crop. Climatic factors, improper irrigation, overuse of insecticides, weather condition and high rates of nitrogen fertilizer application exposes rice plant to diseases. So the sooner you begin to treat the plant and fight these elements, the best for you.

Weeds can be managed through hand weeding or herbicides application. Pests like termites, armyworms, insects, nematodes, rodents, birds, pathogens, e.t.c can be managed by using chemical controls.

Step 8 – Harvest And Thresh

Depending on the seed variety, rice crops can be harvested after about 105 – 150 days of planting, about the time when the plants are already turning yellow/brown. It involves cutting, stacking, handling, threshing, cleaning, and hauling. harvesting can be done manually or mechanically.

Manual harvesting involves cutting the rice crop with sickles and knives, while mechanical harvesting involves using reapers to cut down the rice. Thereafter, you begin to thresh.

Threshing involves separating the paddy grain from the rest of the crop on a mat or tarpaulin. It should be done either immediately or within a day or two after harvesting.

Also, after harvesting, you can plant leguminous crops like beans, chickpeas, lentils, soya e.t.c in the farm, This will serve as organic matters and help to maintain the soil nutrients for another planting season.

Post harvesting processes

This is the production stage that involves drying, hulling, packaging etc.

Drying

The paddy should be sun dried to a moisture level of 13-14 percent. Sun dry slowly for a 2-3 day period to reduce breakage during milling.

Parboiling

Soak paddy in hot water maintaining a temperature of 70°c for 5-6 hours. Then you remove all the empty floating grains. Next, parboil rice by steaming soaked paddy in a huge bag for 10-16 minutes by suspending the bag over steaming water in a drum. When the rice husks begin to split open, you can discontinue parboiling.

Hulling

This is the process of separating the edible part of the rice from the hull, and is done using a hulling machine.

Packaging

Package your rice in a dry and clean bag. This is how you will present them for selling. Have your farm name, product name, logo etc boldly inscribed on the bag.

Storage

Store your products in a cool, dry, rodent-free place.

Conclusion

Just like every other agricultural business, rice farming is a profitable agribusiness to venture into. Although it can be time-consuming, capital intensive, and require expertise, it is a good business area to invest in especially with its local demand and very high export potentials.

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