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How To Start Rice Farming Business in Nigeria [Complete Guide]

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Rice farming business in Nigeria is a profitable business to wade into. This is because it is the most consumed staple food in the world, especially in Asia and Africa. Also, rice is the third-highest produce worldwide after sugarcane and maize.

In Nigeria, about 7 million tonnes of rice is consumed in a year. Rice is food to many people in Nigeria and it is popular in homes, events, and public places. Despite our consumption rate, it is unfortunate that only a few percents of the rice we consume is produced in Nigeria.

How to Start Rice Farming Business in Nigeria

Is Rice Farming Business Lucrative?

However, there has been an upturn since the closure of land borders for food security purposes by the Nigerian government. Also, the World Bank, Central Bank, and other governmental bodies are beginning to boost the agricultural industry by providing support to smallholder rice farmers in varying degrees.

As a result, the agribusiness narrative is changing and rice farming is becoming more and more profitable for rice farmers.

Profitability

Although rice farming has its challenges besides being capital intensive and demanding a large workforce, it’s still a very lucrative business to START by any aspiring entrepreneur in Nigeria. It produces one of the highest yields when compared to other agricultural products. For example, a well-cultivated one hectare of land produces 2-3 tonnes of rice. That is a huge turn over anywhere and as a result farmers know what comes with it in terms of financial profit.

As a wholesaler or distributor, you can obtain a bag of rice for ₦8,000 – ₦8,100 or possibly at a lower rate from your suppliers. A 110-pound (50 kg) bag of rice sells for any between ₦10,000 to ₦12,000 in Nigeria today. If you supply 50 rice bags in a single day at this rate, you will make a profit of 4000 X 50 = ₦200,000. Due to the instability of market price, the price can be higher or lower at any time.

Challenges of Rice Farming Business

Some of the challenges of rice farming in Nigeria and many parts of Africa include:

  • Lack of experience
  • Growing rice is largely region specific.
  • Financial Constraints: This includes high interest rates, inaccessible credit due to tough conditions, and expensive pay outs for manually irrigated and controlled environment.
  • Storage Constraints: under this challenge is found poor storage methods, lack of post-harvesting preservation skills, and theft.
  • Farm Inputs Constraints: there are high prices of farm inputs and unavailability of choice of variety to use.
  • Infrastructural Constraints: militating factors against rice production in Nigeria are inaccessible roads and poor market facilities.
  • Marketing Constraints: price fluctuation, presence of middlemen and competition are proven bottlenecks for farmers.
Diving into Rice Farming Business

The farming process takes about four months between planting and harvesting. Interested persons who aims to dive into the rice farming business, however, will need a couple of things like a large expanse of land, equipment, packaging materials, storage space, labour, transportation, etc. in his readiness to create a brand.

These are the list of steps to take if the business must thrive as a successful business brand:

1. Choose healthy rice seeds
The healthier your seeds are, the greater your chances are of ensuring the highest possible yield is achieved. You should choose an improved variety and select the right seeds based on the cultivation environment. Do not plant seeds in an indiscriminate manner and go for only the best variety seeds. You need to choose the seeds manually for a good rice production.
I would advise that you buy your seeds from a company that is licensed and registered with The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) who are responsible for regulating the Seed Industry in Nigeria. This will ensure that your seeds have been produced and distributed to a high quality, therefore increasing your chances of a high yield.
Selecting good quality seed will help to:
1. Improve yield by 5 – 20%
2. Improve germination by more than 80%
3. Increase resistance to disease and pest attacks
4. Produce consistent plant size
5. Decrease weed problems

2. Choose the right land

The land itself is the most essential capital asset for any rice farming business in Nigeria, and its worth tends to vary on the basis of the drainage facilities, type of soil and location. Rice is generally the crop of a small farmer and the average holding size is around six to seven acres. You need a large space to set your project up and dry the paddy rice prior to harvesting.

These are the things to do to get a Good Land ready for rice farming
  • Select a site in ecological zones where rice is grown traditionally
  • Choose fertile land with good water retention capacity (contain some clay and/or organic matter i.e. loamy soil).
  • If you have to grow rice for one or more consecutive years on the same land, get the advice of a reputable soil-testing agency.
  • Grow legumes after rice, and plough rice residues into the soil as organic matter and fertilizer.

In rice farming you have the option of planting rice in lowlands and uplands, and also in irrigated or swampy conditions. You can significantly reduce capital and the hassles of irrigation by choosing swampy land for rice farming. The most common technique is to get swampy land and have it fully cleared. Use tractors to till the soil in a proper manner until the soil is prepared for actually transplanting your rice seedling.

However, it has been found that rice production is most productive on irrigated soil of lowland swamps. But this type of environment comes at a higher cost.

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.

4. Produce rice seedlings in a nursery

Prepare your seedbed and plant seeds there to be raised in a nursery. Cover the soil with a transparent polythene sheet so that the environment maintains its temperature whilst avoiding soil borne diseases. Your yield can be significantly decreased if transplanted rice is attacked by nematodes and soil borne pathogens.

5. Manage the Soil Nutrients and Weeds

For a couple of months after transplanting the rice seedlings, you will need to remove weeds from the rice farm, and then implement a herbicide application regime to destroy any emerging weeds. Some people tend to apply herbicide twice prior to harvesting.

To boost the growth of rice seedlings, fertilizer is often applied. You should carry out extensive soil tests with specialists before any fertilizer is applied. Always aim to use an organic fertilizer and spray it in right amounts that have been specified. This will vary depending on soil, environment and the type of rice you are harvesting.

Each growth stage of the rice plant has a different nutrient need. Keeping this in mind, farmers must ensure that the rice plant gets the proper nutrients at the right time.

6. 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 while 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.

7. 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.

8. Apply FertilizerThere 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.

9. Control Weed And Pest

Weed, pests, 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.

10. Recognise the time to harvest your Crop

Within 4 months of the plantation, you will have your crop prepared for harvest. When the rice is matured, its color will change to light brown from green. You will then know that your crop is prepared for harvest.

11. 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.

12. Post Production

After threshing, cleaning, and hauling, the next step is to field dry the paddy and then mill.

First, paddy is dried to bring down the moisture content to no more than 30% for milling. You can manually dry paddy by spreading them on a clean concrete floor, mat, or tarpaulin, while they sun dry for 1-3 days manually. After drying, you then mill.

Milling is a crucial step in the post-production of rice. It is done to remove the husk and the bran layers to produce an edible white rice kernel. A good mill can achieve a paddy-to-rice conversion rate of up to 72% but smaller, inefficient mills often struggle to achieve 60%. Also, there should be a minimum number of broken kernels in the conversion process.

13. Marketing

If you successfully follow the above process, you will have rice grains ready to be sold. The next step is to package your rice for sale and consumption.

In packaging, ensure to have your logo, farm address, name, and other identification numbers branded on the packaging sacks. It’s expected that during the business plan stage, you already know who your target market is. It’s actually nice to have a ready market; people ready to purchase your rice before starting the planting process.

To market your rice, you can create a website and social media pages where your farming activities can be showcased and orders booked. Also, you can invest in radio, television, and billboard advert to create awareness.

Most importantly, if you produce quality rice, free of weevil and other kinds of ants, people will patronise you willingly and this will reduce your marketing cost and increase your profit.

How to Start Rice Farming Business in Nigeria [Complete Guide]

To start your rice farming business and join the league of entrepreneurs who are creating positive economic impact in the country, you need to follow the steps below:

A. 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.

B. Register Your Business

After creating a business plan, the next step is to register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Also, 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), etc. in order to secure your business under the protection policies of each association.

The Corporate Affairs Commission is responsible for registering businesses in Nigeria. There are different business structures to choose from and there are different factors that will influence the type of business structure you choose.To get your NAFDAC registration, visit the official website of NAFDAC to start and complete the process.

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

C. Secure Funding

Rice farming is capital intensive as we mentioned and requires huge investment in terms of human resources and finance. The capital required for a rice farming business tends to vary based on its nature. You obviously need a sufficient amount of land for rice farming. Rice milling generally demands adequate workforce, equipment and machinery. Retailing and dealership of rice requires the lowest amount of capital investment. For a rice business, the initial expenses consist of supplies, basic equipment, delivery, packaging, transportation, operating costs and various other outlays. 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.

However, there has been an upturn since the closure of land borders for food security purposes by the Nigerian government. Also, the World Bank, Central Bank, and other governmental bodies are beginning to boost the agricultural industry by providing support to smallholder rice farmers in varying degrees.

As a result, the agribusiness narrative is changing and rice farming is becoming more and more profitable for rice farmers.

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.

Conclusion

As of 2013, world food consumption of rice was 565.6 million metric tons of paddy equivalent (377,283 of milled equivalent), while the largest consumers were China consuming 162.4 million metric tons of paddy equivalent (28.7% of world consumption) and India consuming 130.4 million metric tons of paddy equivalent (23.1% of world consumption).

Between 1961 and 2002, per capita consumption of rice increased by 40%.

The above study therefore means rice farming business is a lifetime enterprise that shares a strong hope for a better financial blossoming in the now and the future.


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