Rice is one of the most popular products in Nigeria, accruing to the fact that her citizens consume around six million tons of rice every year; of which about 70% of the rice quantity is locally produced.
Rice farming can only succeed or thrive well in an environment with the needed knowledge and technicality for production.
This refers to the stages involved in the preparation of the soil for the planting of rice till it is harvested, when it is packaged or unpackaged into finished goods inventory or when the rice grain becomes sellable.
Rice production therefore entails series of activities such as; land preparation, choosing the right varieties to plant, time and appropriate method of planting, fertilizer application, weed control and harvesting.
The following activities will be discussed below.
A successful rice production begins with the choice of land in use for planting. Fertile lands with moderately high water holding capacity, heavy soils characteristic of river valley and FADAMA are best preferred while land with clayey soils are considered most desirable.
The preparation of land for rice production should be done between November and February.
During this time, the land is to be cleared and the bushes packed with the use of hoe, to remove bushes and weed in order to expose the rhizomes of perennial weeds to the heat of the sun.
For land in the savannah region, preparation can start in February while lands in the forest areas or new areas, trees and root should be cut and stumped before ploughing.
To make good slope if the land is flat, the land should be disc harrowed twice while for a sloppy one, the land should be ploughed twice and disc harrowed once.
TIME AND APPROPRIATE METHOD OF PLANTING
Planting should be done in May/June when the rains are firmly established. In flood-prone and waterlogged areas, planting should be early by the end of June.
The planting time for the forest area and the savannah region differ a little, and hence the need to know which is appropriate.
The direct seedling or first planting in the nursery and then transplanting to the farm, are the two methods of planting rice.
FERTILIZER APPLICATION, WEED AND PEST CONTROL
For transplanted seedlings; 200kg/ha of NPK 15:15:15 should be carefully puddle into the soil prior to transplanting.
Then after transplanting, apply another 100kg of urea per hectare broadcast at 30 days.
For direct seedlings; 100kg of 15:15:15 per hectare as basal fertilizer, 2-3 weeks after the appearance to facilitate an integration of fertilizer into the soil
The first weeding should be done within to 2 to 3 weeks after appearance, using hoe instead of a cutlass while the second weeding should be done, 6 to 7 weeks after the appearance. Chemicals like TamariceTMPL and RonstarTMPL can be used to control the weed.
The use of snap traps for rodents, Nogos 50 for termite and Gammalin 20 for armyworm can be used to control pests on the field.
Rice grain is harvested 4 months after planting, and this is observed when the colour of the rice changes from green to brown.
Immediately after harvest is done, threshing is done in order to avoid losses. Harvesting can be done manually or mechanically.
COST INVOLVED IN RICE FARMING
The production cost involved in rice farming varies over the ecologies and this includes;
1. Labour cost: The labour cost involves the cost accrued to the labour use by activity performed in the selected ecology and those by the labour saving technology.
The labour cost is a major component of the total variable costs in rice farming, and is higher in larger scale rice farms.
The labour use by the activity performed, varies being significantly lower for lowland compared to upland and irrigated field.
Labour use by activity includes; land preparation, crop establishment, weeding, fertilizer application, pest management, bird control, harvesting and threshing while the labour use by saving technology is higher in lowland ecologies when compared to that of the upland and irrigated ecologies.
2. Input cost: These are costs that include the price of seeds in terms of purchase and the price of fertilizers. Seeds amount to a significant share of the variable input cost and rice seeds cost vary over states.
Fertilizers are valued at their purchase cost plus transport charges incurred and therefore represent the largest variable input cost.
3. Other costs: This includes the purchase of land and supply of water for irrigated rice field which would incur water charges.