Rice is the one of the most consumed foods in Nigeria, in Africa and the world at large. There are a lot of reasons why rice is the choice crop for farmers who are looking to make it big every year as the rainy season sets in. Rice production in Nigeria comes with a whole lot of advantages. The fact that Rice is one of the most imported foods into the country shows that the demand for rice continuously overwhelms the supply. What’s more? Rice isn’t a farm produce that needs overstretched introduction or marketing. The ones produced aren’t even enough to go round, let alone some, lying fallow in a barn or storage unit.
Nigerians consume about 5.5 million tonnes of rice annually, and even though the amount of rice locally produced is 3.6 million tonnes, and the amount imported is 1.9 million tonnes, it’s still enough to put Nigeria as one the highest importers of rice in the world. Nigeria currently spends roughly N365 billion yearly on the importation of the remaining 1.9 million tonnes, simply because local production alone has failed to satisfy the very high demand for rice in the country. As an entrepreneur and a rice production business enthusiast, the existence of that problem means there are genuine opportunities in the rice production business.
This post aims to take you through some sort of ‘How to Start’ basics and guide in the rice production business in Nigeria. There are a few things to know about starting and running a successful rice production business in Nigeria.
Generally, rice production is not overly capital intensive, especially if you have a land, spacious enough lying fallow already. In fact, with that, half of your start-up problem is solved. If you can’t afford a land yet, you can partner with someone who has a land. The capital required for a rice production business in Nigeria tends to vary based on its nature. Adequate workforce, machinery and equipment are needed for general rice milling after harvest. The capital doesn’t end there, since you’ll need money for the transportation, packaging, delivery, and marketing of your rice to sell it off. There’s also the operational cost to make it happen.
Provide Suitable Land
The most essential capital asset for rice farming business in Nigeria is the land. Dry land isn’t the best soil type to grow the rice plant, even if it’s loamy. Rice prefers swampy land with probably enough decomposed organism and material to boost soil fertility.
You could either plant on lowlands or uplands (although rice has been found to fare better in lowlands) but the most vital part is the soil type and condition. ‘Type’ should be loose black soil; ‘Condition’ should be swampy mash land. This condition can be attained by water channelling also referred to as ‘Irrigation’. Irrigation is a very integral part of rice farming as it keeps the land in shape for the healthy growth of the rice plant. If you get the land type and condition wrong, then you could have as well killed your rice production business even before starting off.
To reduce the amount you’ll be spending on making land available, it is only advisable to start off your business in a geographical zone of the country where rice is traditionally planted.
Choose Healthy Rice Seeds
In rice production, your chances are of ensuring the highest possible yield is to a large extent dependent on how healthy your seeds are. It is very important you select the right seeds and choose an improved variety based on the cultivation environment. It can be risky to plant rice indiscriminately. You’ll need to manually select the healthy seeds; an exercise which can be tedious but would be really worth it in the end. Serious rice production farmers know that indiscriminate planting is a big gamble that can go either ways.
Selecting good quality seed will help to improve your yield by 5 – 20%, most of the healthy seeds are disease and pest resistant. It also helps to reduce weeding problems and they improve germination by more than 80%.
Prepare Nursery for Rice Seedlings
It is important the rice is allowed to grow for two weeks in a nursery before transplanting to the main farmland. After preparing your seedbed, plant the seeds to be raised in the nursery. To maintain the environmental temperature in the nursery, cover the soil with a transparent polythene sheet. It will also help in avoiding soil borne diseases and your yield can be significantly increased since the transplanted rice will be free of attack from nematodes and soil borne pathogens.
Manage Soil Nutrients and Weeds
You will need to remove weeds from the rice farm, not more than 2 months after transplanting the rice seedlings; and then application of herbicide would follow to destroy any emerging weeds. To boost the growth of rice seedlings, you must replenish soil nutrients zapped off by the removed weed; hence, fertilizer is applied. Organic fertilizer and spray in right amounts that have been specified, should always be used; although, this will vary depending on the environment, soil, and the type of rice. It is important that the rice plant gets its required nutrients at the right time.
Harvest the Crop
Rice usually takes 4 months from planting to harvesting. The colour of the crop will change from the normal green to light brown when the rice is fully matured. Once the change in colour occurs, then the rice is ready for harvest.
Storage is also another part that would require capital. It is not only enough to store the harvested rice, it is important to store them safely away from pests and rodents while they are yet to be sold off. If your rice isn’t healthy, it won’t sell.
Feasibility Study of Rice Production in Nigeria
If you spend N3 million to start up your rice production business in Nigeria, you can get a 25-30% ROI within a year or a year and half. A lot of Nigerian businessmen are investing into rice production and it’s simply because it is a really lucrative business in Nigeria.
If after harvest, all you could get to the point of sale after negotiating with the wholesaler or distributor on N11,500 per bag is 200 bags (could be more or less, depending on how wide your farm is) then N11,500 X 200 = N2,300,000.
If you have a strong soil type and you’re able to harvest just twice in a year: N2,300,000 X 2 = N4,600,000 to show at the first year of the business. Bear in mind that rice production ROI increases yearly.
Rice Production: Risks and Profits
If you’ve carefully read through the post, you would be to pick out the risks involved and what you stand to gain. Some of the big risks to rice production in Nigeria are animals like birds, rodents, locusts, and so on who wouldn’t love anything more than to harvest the rice before you. Your harvest must be timely to avoid them infesting your farm.
There are uncountable merits in starting a rice production business in a country where the rice is never enough. It is also very good to start a business that doesn’t need too much training or seminars and all to start up. You can improvise in many ways in the rice production business and what’s more, you don’t need too much marketing. Just pick your potential clients and your product markets itself.