Rice farming is one of the most lucrative agriculture businesses one can embark on given the current state of the economy.
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 – Mr Akinwumi Adesina speaking to Channels TV
This post will highlight the processes involved in rice farming and how to go about starting your own farm.
Is rice farming worth it?
Yes, it is.
Among the many practical agriculture business ideas for entrepreneurs, rice farming is among the most profitable. 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. Of this quantity, only 3.6 million tons are produced locally. The remaining 1.9 million tons are imported into the country.
Rice produces one of the highest yields when compared to other agricultural products. With the right planting conditions in place, you could harvest about 100 bags of rice from one acre of land.
HOW TO START RICE FARMING
To begin farming, you will need to buy (or lease) a flat land composed of a good amount of clay and organic matter (loamy soil). 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.
A common practice among people who wish to embark on rice farming is to approach land owners and ask for their permission to farm on their land. Also, some state governments map out some acres of land to encourage farmers. You should visit your state Ministry of Agriculture and find out what programs they have in place to support rice farmers.
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 was 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).
Rice farming requires plenty of water. Unless you have plans to irrigate your farm, you should consider planting during the rainy season. 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.
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).
Rice farming is one aspect of agriculture you can start with any amount of money you have. A close friend planted (and harvested) 4 bags of rice to prepare for his wedding. Don’t laugh, I’m serious. You can start rice farming on any scale.
I always tell people to start small and expand when they have gotten enough experience. When you are ready to expand your scale of production, you will need 2 things: money and a business plan. I will wrap up this article by taking a brief look at how to get both.
WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN
Writing a detailed business plan for your rice farm will help you determine the potentials of the business, cost of land and machinery, amount of labor and utilities that the farm will need, etc. A business plan will help you stay focused on the business goals, and can even be used to entice prospective investors.
Now, I have prepared a detailed online course on writing a business plan. It is comprehensive and will take you from scratch to having a completed, ready to go business business plan.
SOURCE FOR FINANCE
No business survives without capital. To encourage increased participation in agriculture among young people, the government introduces 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.
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