BY HANNAH ONI, Lagos
Rice is a regular food on the table of most households in the country. Although, the price has increased in recent times, owing to shortage of supply as funding and insecurity continue to pose serious challenges to farmers, there is no doubt, rice farming, especially, on a large scale , is very profitable. Dr Cosmas Maduka, the founder, president and chairman of the Coscharis Group and also a rice farmer explains the process involved.
“For instance, we accessed N7 billion loan facility from Access Bank for Coscharis Farm in Anaku, Anambra State in 2019, which was our first year of doing two-season farming. We spent N3.5 billion to do irrigation covering 27 kilometres.
“We built eight pump stations connecting water from Oji River that is supplied by Anambra River, and we take water across 27 kilometres into the farm. So, this year, we did our first dry season farming. That is why to do rice farming at the level we are doing it, is a huge task.
“The total road network is over 200 kilometres and you can see, to do rice farming on a large scale requires huge funding. “
“The 200 kilometres, in which our rice farm is situated, is a village in the riverine area of Anaku. You won’t believe it exists. It is the power of vision. This land was acquired over 30 years ago from three major sources: Life Breweries of Onitsha, Bravo, Rojenny and the villagers. Different lands put together.
“To cut and move trees out of this piece of land cost over a billion naira, because it is a virgin forest that has never been habited in life. “
Dr Maduka explains that leveling the ground is one of the most difficult preparations as access roads for vehicles was vital.
“Rice is a crop that grows on mud. So, you make the ground muddy with water and plant this weed on it, it will grow and give you everything it requires. Rice is such that 120 days subject to the grain you are planting; you can harvest and plant another. So you can do three seasons.”
I’m terms of profit he notes there were seasons when the company had N300 million to N400 million paid for two months and one month respectively, to supply rice but was unable to for lack of paddies.
“Many farmers are beginning to find out that there is money in paddy (harvested, but not yet processed or threshed rice), because paddy went from N110,000 per tonne to N250,000 per tonne at some point last year,” he disclosed.