By BUKOLA IDOWU, Lagos
A significant area to look into as a means of building up your finance is rice cultivation. Nigeria requires more than seven million metric tonnes of rice per annum and production over the years has been on the rise, particularly since the Central Bank of Nigeria commenced the Anchor Borrowers Programme. However, local production is yet to meet demand, providing opportunities for investment in rice farming in the country.
The Executive Chairman of Ajogbe Group, the largest rice farm and miller in Osun State Engr. Bosoye Olalere, says assumptions that rice can only be cultivated in marshy land with a large body of water is not entirely true. He explained that there are different varieties of rice with peculiar characteristics in terms of water requirement.
Types Of Rice Cultivation
Olalere indicates that there are the upland and the lowland varieties of rice. The lowland varieties are those that are planted in a fixed body of water while the upland can do with minimal water supply. The upland variety is what is cultivated in most parts of Nigeria’s Southwest where there are no huge dams. In areas where there are huge dams or reservoirs with tremendous body of water, it will be wise to do lowland rice cultivation.
Advantages Of Rice Cultivation
The Engineer says the first advantage is the benefit of knowledge and self-esteem it confers on an individual and even the society, knowing that an important food item that is cherished by vast segment of our society can easily be grown. “The joy you get when you plant rice and go through the rigours of cultivation, harvesting and making it ready for the table. The feeling is tremendous because it is so central to food security,” he said, adding that the second benefit of rice cultivation is the economic benefit. “Rice cultivation can be very profitable because the total life cycle is just about four months between the time of planting to the period of harvest.”
Disadvantages Of Rice Cultivation
Olalere goes on to say that rice cultivation requires specific land preparation unlike other crops. “For rice you have to make sure there is no other vegetation. All the trees have to be uprooted. You need an open field and ensure there are no coverings from other plants. What that means, particularly in Southwest Nigeria where we have tropical forest region, is that it costs a lot.”
“You need to bulldoze before you can have a successful rice farm unlike other grains like maize. For rice, you have to bulldoze, plough and harrow to make the soil loose for rice to thrive. That constraint of having to bulldoze is one of the major reasons we don’t have many people going into rice cultivation in Southwest Nigeria,” he said.