Rice farming is one of the most lucrative agribusinesses that anyone can start and make a profit in Ghana. In Ghana, rice is the second most important cereal crop after maize, based on the volume of production.
Rice is a major staple crop in Ghana due to the changing preference of taste of consumers from households to social and official functions.
In 2019, rice production in Ghana stood at 900,000 tonnes. However, due to the increasing demand for rice, there’s a need for more rice production.
In 2017, Ghana imported rice worth $1.1 billion. Rice importation takes about 82% of all imports into the country. As a smart entrepreneur, rice farming provides a good opportunity to make money in Ghana.
Furthermore, there is an already established market for rice farmers in Ghana. This contributes immensely to the profitability of rice farming and production in Ghana.
I know you’re on this page because you want to know more about rice production. Well, in this article we’ll look at a beginners guide on how to start a profitable rice farming business in Ghana.
Rice Production Methods in Ghana
Rice production methods in Ghana can be divided into three types:
a) Valley-bottom (lowland) rice
c) Controlled flooding
How to Start Rice Farming in Ghana
To be successful in rice farming, you’ll need a huge capital. However, you can still make money from rice production if you start small. Rice is cultivated all over Ghana, however, it’s predominantly found in the Northern, Ashanti, Volta, Bono and Ahafo region. Below is a step by step guide on how to start a rice farming business in Ghana.
Step 1 – Get a Good Land
Rice is a tropical plant that requires sufficient water to grow well. Therefore, the soil used in growing rice should have a good water retention capacity. Silt clay, silt clay loam and clay are some of the soil textures that are best for rice farming. Fertile riverine alluvial soil is best for rice cultivation.
The land should permit easy and frequent inspection. The land to be used for the seedbed and the main field should be medium fertile. It should not be too fertile because it will discourage the luxurious growth of the plants. The site should be a low land with a medium deep-water, that is, up to 50 cm water depth. Also, 10-20 cm excess is suitable for rice farming. The area selected should not be experiencing heavy floods.
Step 2 – Land Preparation
For rice farming, land preparation needs to be done to put the soil in the best condition for the best yield. It involves ploughing and harrowing to till and level the soil. A field that is well-prepared controls weeds, provides a soil mass important for transplanting, recycles plant nutrients, and provides a surface that is suitable for proper seeding.
Step 3 – 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 a farmer would determine the outcome of the harvest most times.
A good rice specie should be genetically pure. You can get these kinds of seeds from reliable sources such as the International Agricultural Organization, and the ministry of agriculture.
A good rice seed should have a moisture content below 14% to avoid getting rotten. The seeds should be capable of growing at a rate of 80%. The seeds should be free of pest infection, diseases, and weed seeds.
Step 4 – Choose A Planting Method
Rice can either be planted directly into the rice field or firstly planted in the nursery and later transplanted to the fields.
Direct seeding involves dibbing or broadcasting dry seed or pre-germinated seeds by hand or by machine. In rainfed and deep-water ecosystems, the dry seed is manually broadcast unto the soil surface and then incorporated either by ploughing or harrowing while the sun is still dry.
In irrigated areas, seeds are normally pre-germinated prior to broadcasting. The disadvantage of this method is weed manifestation but with the use of herbicides, they can be controlled.
Seedlings raised in the nursery are transferred from seedbed to the wet field. It requires less seed and is an effective method to control weeds. Seedlings can be transplanted by machine or hand and it’s the most popular technique across Asia.
Step 5 – Water Management
Rice is highly sensitive to water shortages and the process of water maintenance differs from one ecological area to another. Therefore, you need to maintain the water level in the field up to 5cm one week after transplanting until grain matures.
Step 6 – Fertilizer Application
At every stage of growth, the rice plants require some specific nutrients. As such there are different fertilizers that can be applied at different stages of growth.
You need to speak to a pedologist to advise you on the right organic fertilizer to use, the right quantity and the right time to use them to ensure you have the best yield.
Step 7 – Weed and Pest Control
Weed and pest will always attack rice farms and can reduce crop yield. Climatic factors, improper irrigation, overuse of insecticides, weather condition and high rates of nitrogen fertilizer application exposes rice plant to diseases. As such, you need to make adequate provision for weed and pest control.
Weeds can be managed through hand weeding or herbicides application. Pests like termites, armyworms, insects, nematodes, rodents, birds, pathogens, e.t.c can be managed by using chemical controls.
Step 8 – Rice Harvesting
Harvesting is understood as the process of collecting matured rice in the field. Depending on the seed variety, rice can be harvested 105 – 150 days after planting. The planted rice will turn yellow/brown in colour.
Rice harvesting involves cutting, stacking, handling, threshing, cleaning, and hauling. harvesting can be done manually or mechanically.
Manual harvesting involves cutting the rice crop with sickles and knives, while mechanical harvesting involves using reapers to cut down the rice. Thereafter, you begin to thresh.
Threshing involves separating the paddy grain from the rest of the crop on a mat or tarpaulin. It should be done either immediately or within a day or two after harvesting.
Also, after harvesting, you can plant leguminous crops like beans, chickpeas, lentils, soya e.t.c in the farm, This will serve as organic matters and help to maintain the soil nutrients for another planting season.
Step 9 – Post Production
After harvesting, the next important step is to dry the paddy and then mill.
First, paddy is dried to bring down the moisture content to no more than 30% for milling. You can manually dry paddy by spreading them on a clean concrete floor, mat, or tarpaulin, while they sundry for 1-3 days manually. After drying, you then mill.
Milling is a crucial step in the post-production of rice. It is done to remove the husk and the bran layers to produce an edible white rice kernel. A good mill can achieve a paddy-to-rice conversion rate of up to 72% but smaller, inefficient mills often struggle to achieve 60%. Also, there should be a minimum number of broken kernels in the conversion process.
Step 10 – Marketing
This is the last stage of rice farming. At this stage, you need to package your rice for sale and consumption.
For registered rice farmers, ensure you brand your rice sack. As earlier mentioned, there is an already established market in Ghana for rice production. You can sell your rice to the local market in your neighbourhood.
Most importantly, if you produce quality rice, free of weevil and other kinds of ants, people will patronise you willingly and this will reduce your marketing cost and increase your profit.