Volume 2 No 3_2018: Innovation Opportunities in the Rice Value Chain in Nigeria

Download a full copy: Volume 2 No 3_2018: Innovation Opportunities in the Rice Value Chain in Nigeria


As a cereal grain, Rice is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population. To the average Nigerian, rice needs no introduction because it has become one of the most important foods in the country, consumed by both the wealthy and the poor. Massive importation of the commodity from countries like India, China, and Thailand therefore, occur largely because of the estimated amount of rice milled locally is placed at 1.8 million tons.

Most rice farmers in Nigeria are smallholders (90 percent of total), applying a low-input strategy to agriculture, with minimum input requirements and low output. Nigeria rice productivity is among the lowest within neighbouring countries, with average yields of 1.51 tonne/ha. Nigeria is the largest rice producing country in West Africa but is also the second largest importer of rice in the World. Rice is cultivated on about 3.7 million hectares of land in Nigeria, representing approximately 10.6 percent of the 35 million hectares of land under cultivation, out of a total arable land area of 70 million hectares in Nigeria Out of the 3,7million hectares under rice cultivation, 77 percent of the farmed area is rain-fed rice, of which 47 percent is lowland and 30 percent upland. Rice is the third most important cereal grown and consumed globally after wheat and maize. In Nigeria, rice is cultivated in almost all ecological belts available in the country as they all provide favourable environments to support the crops.

Cultivated rice is generally considered a semi-aquatic annual grass, although in the tropics it can survive as perennial, producing new tillers from nodes after harvest (ratooning). At maturity, the rice plant has a main stem and several tillers. Each productive tiller bears a terminal flowering head or panicle. Rice is cultivated in virtually all the agro-ecological zones in Nigeria, therefore successful cultivation of rice starts with choice of right rice variety suitable for the site. Because fields differ in their soil quality, the risk of flooding, or the risk of drought, a suitable variety must be selected for each field. Using suitable varieties minimizes the risk of crop loss or failure and ensures good yields. A suitable variety should give good yields, taste good, have a high market price, and many things more.

Paddy fields can be prepared under either dry or wetland conditions; the choice depends on time of operation, soil properties and implements to be used. In either case, the field should be disc ploughed immediately after harvest in November/December to expose the rhizomes of perennial weeds to scorching action of the sun. For direct seeded rice, the field is harrowed just before the first rain, and the crop is seeded. For wet or transplanted rice, the field is flooded with the first rains. In the absence of ploughs, make heaps at the onset of first rains for weed control. Farmers’ yields range between 1,200 and 3,000kg ha-1 for swamp rice and 1,000 – 1,500kg ha-1 for upland rice. With improved practices yields of up to 5,000 – 6,000kg and 2,500 – 3,000kg ha-1 of paddy are possible for swamp and upland rice, respectively. Rice should be stored in cool, dry rodent-proof conditions. Infested paddy should be fumigated with phostoxin in air-tight containers at the rate of one tablet/jute bag (100 kg paddy) or 10–15 tablets/t paddy.

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