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Rice Farming Business In South Africa Is Booming – Learn How It’s Cultivation:

Rice farming is one of the most lucrative businesses that anyone can start and make profit. The popularity of rice at events and ceremonies such as weddings, birthdays and so on, has made rice farming a very profitable business for anyone who ventures into it.

In Africa, and more importantly in Nigeria, rice stands as one of the most consumed food crops among people of all ages. Despite this glaring and undeniable fact, it is saddening that the agricultural sector still suffers a high degree of neglect from the government and citizens alike.

This is quite despicable as this same sector contributed all the nation has today, prior to the discovery of crude oil in the 50s. This is probably because oil has more value in the international market, or probably because rice it seems to be a tedious and backbreaking activity. Irrespective of these reasons, rice remains one of the most luxurious crops to cultivate in Nigeria.

Why rice farming is lucrative

It is common knowledge that Rice is the most popular food in Nigeria, in the most populous country of Africa. Along the years, Nigeria’s rice consumption has been steadily on the increase. And the top reason for this is that rice remains one of the major types of food which almost every Nigerian eat daily.

Every year, Nigerians consume an average of 5.5 million tons of rice, but only 3.6 million tons of these 5.5 million tons are locally produced while the rest is usually imported from other countries. The local farmers who produce rice, do it for their relatively subsistence consumption.

Sadly, this is because quite a handful of them lack desirable technical know-how required to produce rice on a large scale. As a result they end up producing mainly local rice i.e ofada rice.

However, since it has been proven that the demand for rice is very high, it shows that there exists an untapped goldmine in its commercial growth and it comes as no surprise that the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote has decided to invest in the industry and would soon launch his rice products to the African market.

Places Where Rice Is Grown in Nigeria

It is known that rice is one crop that requires special geographical and atmospheric conditions to grow. As a result, it is not everywhere it is planted that it will grow and survive. It is however known to survive in the following states.

For now, this is the list of the states in Nigeria where Rice planting and production is more pronounced unlike the case in other states, and the names they call their Nigerian Rice:

  • Kano State- UMZA Rice
  • Gombe State- Mas Rice Mill
  • Niger State- Mama Happy Rice
  • Kebbi State- Labana Rice
  • Ebonyi State- Ebonyi Rice
  • Anambra State- Anambra Rice
  • Nasarawa State- Olam Rice
  • Ogun State- Ofada Rice
  • Ekiti State- Igbemo Rice.

In any of the above-listed states, it is very certain that if utmost attention is given to a rice farm, and there’s no pest or disease breakout, there’ll be a rich bumper harvest. It is trite to note that rice production requires no formal knowledge in Agricultural science and thus, anyone can choose to start a rice farm today. They are he best place in Nigeria for rice farming.

How to start rice farming in Nigeria

Here are the steps to start rice farming in Nigeria:

Choose the right land

Rice is a peculiar crop and it requires certain special soils. Advisably, rice should be planted in areas where it is traditionally cultivated. The soils in these areas are known to have high water retention capacity and are thus a mixture of clayey, loamy and sometimes swampy. Planting rice on a sandy soil land/terrain is an effort in futility.

Prepare the land for Rice Cultivation

This is the process whereby the piece of land to be used is made ready for the planting season. It is at this stage that the land is cleared of all weeds and all trees are equally uprooted.  Other minor weeds are equally exposed to scorching sunlight to get burnt. This is usually done in the dry season in anticipation of the planting season which is preferably in the rainy season. Fertilizers and manure are also added to the soil at this stage.

Choose the right Rice Specie

There are quite a number of rice species and it is paramount that an intending farmer picks one he desires to cultivate. The choice made by this farmer would determine the outcome of the harvest most times.

Timing of Planting

The period where the rice is sowed is of utmost importance as it varies from region to region. In the Northern part of Nigeria, rice is planted around Mid-May to Mid-June while it is planted earlier in the south where it is planted any time between the middle of March to mid-April.

Planting Methodology

Rice can either be planted directly into the rice field or firstly planted in the nursery and later transplanted to the fields. It should be noted that these methods have varying surrounding modalities and systems surrounding them. It should be noted also that the spacing system for the two types of planting differs and any little slip or mistake can adversely affect the yield.

Fertilizer Application

It isn’t a new thing that soil supplements will be added to the field to boost the yield. As a reult, a rice farmer must know the appropriate fertilizer to apply. The right quantity and the right moment to apply it to the field in order to optimize the output. To avoid confusion, it is advisable to visit any nearby agro store.

Weeding of the Field

Weeding is simply the elimination of plants that are not planted and possess threats to the growth of the originally planted crop. It is thus not debatable that a farmer must from time to time eliminate these weeds on his or her field.

Pest control

Pests would always invade any thriving farm with an intent to reduce it to nothing. However, the farmer must always be at alert and never lose sight of potential pest attacks. As soon as he sees any, he must take steps to eliminate these pests.


After 1-8 above is successfully seen, the planted rice would after about 3 months turn from white colour to brown. This shows that the rice is ready for harvesting. At this point, the farmer would decide to either harvest for individual consumption or sell to the rice mills for commercial purposes.

Marketing your rice

You should have a marketing plan for your rice. If you have a large farm that produce very large quantity of rice. You may need to recruit an expert marker to help in marketing. Marketing is very important. But if you are producing small scale, you can visit wholesalers and re-sellers around you to market your rice.

If you live within areas that has plenty of swampy lands, then you are in for good business this season. Rice farming is one of the viable investment any serious investor must not look down on. This is because of the potential for productivity and profits.

One of the very good thing about rice farming is that it take less that four months between planting and harvesting. Therefore, whatever amount you invested now, you’re sure of your return within the next four months, guaranteeing the possibility for quick loan repayments if you take loan to invest in rice farming.

Rice farming is straight forward and requires not much expertise, anyone can cultivate and harvest rice, irrespective of your experience and background in rice business. Rice is a very high yield crop, one Acre of rice farm is capable of producing over 100 bags of rice. Below are some of the things you need to make it happen.

  • A very good swampy, less acidic land
  • High yield verity of rice specie
  • The right fertilizer and proper application
  • Good weed control at the proper time
  • And early planting…

Put these in place and you’re in for a hit in rice business!


Indigenous red grain specie (Oryza glaberrina)

  • Fadama rice
  • Upland rice
  • Lowland rice

How to Start a Rice Plantation in Nigeria.

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:

  • Improve yield by 5 – 20%
  • Improve germination by more than 80%
  • Increase resistance to disease and pest attacks
  • Produce consistent plant size
  • Decrease weed problems

2. 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.

3. Choice Of Land.

The land itself is the most essential capital asset for nay 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 6 acres. You need a large space to set your project up and dry the paddy rice prior to harvesting.

  • 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.

4. Swampy Land.

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.

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. Harvest The 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.

7. Cost. 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.

It is equally important to factor in the storage costs to keep the products in a healthy condition. You can raise capital for rice business in various ways. Due to the land required, rice farming will require significant capital to launch. But costs can be reduced if you own land, or if you can go in to partnership with someone who owns land.

Due to the technical knowledge required to start and maintain a rice farm, detailed business planning, and research should be carried out before you start.

8. Potential Profits.

In rice farming, the projected income also depends on the capital that is invested. The bigger the capital investment, the bigger the profits will be. If you start with huge capital, the returns on investment will be bigger, and faster due to having more efficient and effective machinery, storage and processes that can help you take advantage of opportunities, and high demand.

Despite this, due to Nigeria’s agricultural transformation agenda there is a rapid growth and competitive edge that is emerging in smaller mills. This can be linked to the increase in the amount of rice paddies being produced. Nigerian entrepreneurs and rice farmers are no longer in doubt that rice farming is a profitable business.

The big rice market in Nigeria, and the high costs and duties related with importing rice, make local production highly attractive. The Nigerian government has also introduced favorable incentives in order to promote local production. This has benefited local areas, for example, In Ekiti State, the small millers are starting operations with improved small scale equipment, growing at an estimated rate of about 10 to 15 new small mills per annum and mostly targeting the niche market of Ofada and Igbemo local rice.

9. Investment In Rice Farming In Nigeria.

You know this area has huge potential when the richest man in Africa, Alioke Dangote, states that he plans to invest $1 billion in modern integrated rice mills and commercial rice farming in Nigeria. He has already acquired about 150,000 hectares of farming land in five of the states of Nigeria.

On a large scale, if you invest around $14 million in Nigeria today on an integrated rice mill, there will be 42 – 50% internal rate of return on your investment. You will need exactly a couple of years to return this investment amount.

But on a smaller scale, if you only spend $10 thousand on your rice farming business in Nigeria, you can get a 25-30% ROI within 1 ½ years from the time you float your venture. Rice farming is undoubtedly one of the most profitable, and lucrative business ideas in Nigeria.

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.

Benefits and Challenges of Rice Farming Business in Nigeria.


  • The high demand for the rice. Every household in Nigeria consumes rice and the demand for this product will only grow up high!
  • Yields early. Many crops need from six months to one year to be ready for harvest. At the same time, rice needs only four-five months to be ready.
  • High yield. You can expect at least 100 bags of rice from an acre of land.
  • You do not need to be an expert in the rice farming in Nigeria to start this business.
  • High return on investments and market stability.


  • Getting the right variety. If you are a new in the rice farming business in Nigeria, then you need to get your attention on the right variety of rice, or you can lose your venture.
  • Disease. Rice farming in Nigeria can include potential diseases for your rice. Consult experts to illuminate the basis for the diseases.
  • Birds. The greatest threat to every crops business in Nigeria!
  • Importation of rice. Foreign rice is cheaper than local, so you might need to work harder so people would buy your rice.