Oryza sativa is the botanical name of a popular cereal known as RICE. To the average Nigerian, it needs no introduction because it has become one of the most important foods in the country, consumed by everyone.

Due to urbanization, change in employment patterns, rapid population growth, change in diets of Nigerians on account of income expansion, rice has become a staple food to the average Nigerian leading to an increase in the demand.

Interestingly, Nigeria, which is the largest producer of rice in West Africa and the third in Africa after Egypt and Madagascar producing about 3 million metric tons on the average annually, falls short of meeting its local demand which is placed at about 5 million tons.

This particular statistic makes her the highest consumer of rice in the West African sub region and the second largest importer in the world, buying at least 2 million tons annually. The massive importation of the product from countries like India, China, Thailand etc, is dependent on the fact that the estimated amount of rice milled locally is placed at 1.8 million tons.

On the average, Nigeria spends one billion Naira on rice importation daily (that is a 365 billion Naira annually). (Agriculturalists keep asking”why spend such an outrageous amount of money importing rice when Nigeria has the potential of growing enough rice to support Her population and generate surplus that can be exported?”).

Although rice can be grown in all the geographical zones of Nigeria depending on the variety, the area of land used for rice cultivation is relatively small (about 2 million hectares) when survey puts it that Nigeria has the potentials of cultivating about 5 million hectares.

The amount of money set aside for rice importation, if redirected into the improvement of rice production such as supporting both small scale and large scale rice cultivation and milling of rice grown in Nigeria to meet international standards like its rivals from other countries would enable Nigeria meet its rice demand and also export rice to neighboring countries in a short time from now.


Indigenous red grain specie (Oryza glaberrina)

Fadama rice

Upland rice

Lowland rice



The process involved in rice cultivation depends on the geographical and ecological factors available. That is to say different varieties thrive in different geographical and ecological zones in Nigeria.  Source:IITA’s growing lowland rice in Nigeria.


Choose fertile land with a moderately high water holding-capacity. Heavy soils characteristic of river valleys and Fadamas are preferred. Lands with clayey soils are considered most desirable.eg Ilushi part of Edo state.


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 plowed 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. Construct bunds and cover the paddy field with water to prevent the loss of nitrogen through denitrification.


Plant in May/June when the rains are firmly established. Planting should be early (by the end of June) in flood-prone and waterlogged.

Seed rate Direct sowing needs 55–65 kg/ha grain; raising seedlings to transplanting needs 45 kg/ha grain.


This is possible in hydromorphic areas by broadcasting or dibbling. Divide the field into plots of 50 m2 or 100 m2, and construct small bunds. While weeds are the major problem, applying herbicides to control it is the way to go, the spacing should be 20–25 cm between rows and 15–20 cm between plants. Direct seeding can be done with pregerminated seeds in wet soils.


Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. Spread them on the floor and incubate them by covering them with polyethylene bags for 48 hours for the seeds to sprout. To provide seedlings for 1 ha of land, raise the nursery in 500 m2 (1/20 acre).

Spread the sprouted seeds uniformly on a puddled nursery field. Drain excess water from the field for a week. Ensure that seed beds are raised in high rainfall areas. Avoid bird damage during germination by scaring birds


Transplant seedlings from nursery after 21 days. This is done by uprooting the seedlings. Transplant 2–3 seedlings per hill. Spacing should be 20 cm between rows and 15–20cm between plants. Transplant early maturing varieties 15 cm apart and transplant medium and late maturing varieties 20 cm apart.


Gap-fill the areas where seeds have not germinated 7–10 days after transplanting. Use remaining seedlings.


Maintain the level of water in the field up to 5cm one week after transplanting until grain matures. Drain the water a week before harvesting. Cracks should not be seen in the field.

Fertilizer Rate And Time Of Application


  • FIRST APPLICATION:Apply broadcast, 200 kg (4 bags) of NPK 15:15:15,  14 days after transplanting.
  • SECOND APPLICATION:Apply broadcast 100 kg/ha (12 bags) of urea at ear initiation.


  • FIRST APPLICATION:Apply 200 kg/ha (4 bags) of NPK 15:15:15, thoroughly puddle in the soil before transplanting, followed by another 100kg (2 bags) of  Urea per hectare broadcast at 30 days after transplanting.
  • SECOND APPLICATION:Broadcast 100 kg/ha (2 bags) of Urea per hectare at ear initiation.

Weed Control

HAND WEEDING: Hand-weed twice at 21st and 40th days after transplanting. Collect all weeds from bunds, and decompose or bury them in one corner of the field to prevent insect attack.

CHEMICAL CONTROL; Drain water from the field. Spray herbicides such as TamariceTMPL,

RonstarTMPL, or RisaneTMat 3 kg/ha (8 litres) 2–3 weeks after transplanting on a clear sunny day.

After 2–3 days, irrigate the field. You may topdress with urea. Hand weed again around 40 days after planting.

  • Diseases – Spray DithaneTMM-45 at 1kg or BenlateTMat 1.5 kg/ha in 500 liters of water to control brown spot, grain discoloration, and blast.
  • Pests – STEM BORER: Watch the rice crop closely for dead hearts during early vegetative growth.
  • In case of stem borer attack, spray Gammalin 20 on leaves and plant bases thoroughly.
  • Apply DecisTMat 1 liter a.i/ha in 500 litres of water to control rice bugs which suck the sap after flowering
  • Apply FuradanTM(Carbofuran) at 1 kg/ha or MiralTM(Isazofos) at 0.75 kg a.i/ha to control African rice gall midge 20–30 days after transplanting as symptoms are seen on the field.


Birds are a problem during grain filling. Control them manually by scaring them.

Harvesting long straw close to the ground 15–20 cm to permit hand threshing.

Expected Yield

5–6 t/ha paddy.


Dry paddy properly to a safe moisture content of 13–14%, by spreading it on a clean concrete floor, mat or tarpaulin. Sun-dry slowly for 2–3 datys to reduce breakage during milling or on a clear bright day, sun dry for one day only, by spreading clean concrete floor, mat, or tarpaulin. Better if affordable; use a mechanical drier, if possible.


Store 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.


Parboiling: Soak paddy in hot water at 70 degree century for 5–6 hours. Discard all floating empty grains. Parboil rice by steaming soaked paddy in a jute bag for 10–16 min by suspending the bag over steaming water in a drum. Stop parboiling when rice husks start to split open. Chalky grains or white centers indicate incomplete parboiling, which may cause grain to break during milling.


Mill rice in a two-stage milling machine. Always mill one pure variety at a time.