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RICE (Oryza sativa)
Rice has been cultivated in China since ancient times and was introduced to India before the time of the Greeks. Chinese records of rice cultivation go back 4,000 years. It is of two types Oryza sativa (Asian rice), Oryza glaberrima (African rice). It’s usually an annual plant, although in tropical areas it can survive as a perennial and can produce a ratoon crop for up to 30 years. Rice cultivation has been carried into all regions having the necessary warmth and abundant moisture favorable to its growth, mainly subtropical rather than hot or cold. The crop was common in West Africa by the end of the 17th cent.
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Staple food: Rice is used as a staple food by more than 60 percent of world population. Cooking of rice is a most popular way of eating.
Rice starch: Rice starch is used in making ice cream, custard powder, puddings, gel, distillation of potable alcohol, etc.
Rice bran: It is used in confectionery products like bread, snacks, cookies and biscuits. The defatted bran is also used as cattle feed, organic fertilizer (compost), and medicinal purpose and in wax making.
Rice bran oil: Rice bran oil is used as edible oil, in soap and fatty acids manufacturing. It is also used in cosmetics, synthetic fibers, detergents and emulsifiers. It is nutritionally superior and provides better protection to heart.
Rice husk: It is used as a fuel, in board and paper manufacturing, packing and building materials and as an insulator. It is also used for compost making and chemical derivatives.
Rice broken: It is used for making food item like breakfast cereals, baby foods, rice flour, noodles, rice cakes, etc. and also used as poultry feed.
Rice straw: it is used as animal feed, fuel, for mulching in horticultural crops, and in preparation of paper and compost.
Rice provides 21% of global human per capita energy and 15% of per capita protein. Although rice protein ranks high in nutritional quality among cereals, protein content is modest. Rice also provides minerals, vitamins, and fiber, although all constituents except carbohydrates are reduced by milling.
Methods of growing differ greatly in different localities, but in most developing countries(Nigeria), the traditional hand methods of cultivating and harvesting rice are still practiced. The fields are prepared by plowing, fertilizing, and smoothing (by dragging a log over them). The seedlings are started in seedling beds and, after 30 to 50 days, are transplanted by hand to the fields, which have been flooded by rain or river water. During the growing season, irrigation is maintained by dike-controlled canals or by hand watering. The fields are allowed to drain before cutting.
Pest and Disease incidence
The world rice crop is attacked by more than 100 species of insects; 20 of them can cause economic damage. Insect pests that can cause significant yield losses are stem borers; leafhoppers and planthoppers (which cause direct damage by feeding as well as by transmitting viruses); gall midges, a group of defoliating species (mainly lepidopterans); and a grain-sucking bug complex that feeds on developing grains.
Others include: weeds, pathogens, nematode, rodents, leafroller, rice weevils, panicle rice mite, and birds.
Major rice diseases include Rice ragged stunt, Sheath Blight, and tungro. Rice blast, caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea, is the most significant disease affecting rice cultivation. There is also an ascomycete fungus, Cochliobolus miyabeanus that causes brown spot disease in rice.
The general constraints affecting rice production in Nigeria include the following:
Unreliability of rainfall
Yield losses caused by low solar radiation owing to clouds during August in West Africa (Posner, 1978)
Extremes of temperature (< 20oC and > 35oC) which result in yield losses in Madagascar, Central, East and southern Africa;
Unfavorable government policies that affect agriculture in general and rice in particular with regard to the following: resource allocation; cropping priorities; provision of adequate credits: low interest rates; creation of incentives and input subsidies; pricing and marketing
Importation: Inconsistencies in government policies on the regulation of importation of rice. The production capacity of Nigeria is far below the national requirements. In order to meet the increasing demand, Nigeria has had to resort to importation of milled rice to bridge the gap between domestic demand and supply. There was a phenomenal rise in imports since the mid-1970s. However, rice imports began to decline in 1981 as a result of measures put in place to check the importation of the commodity. Even then, the quantity imported on an annual basis was over 300 thousand tons. Imports dropped significantly from 1985 when an embargo was instituted.
Economic potential of rice production
Nigeria is the second largest importer of rice in the world, buying at least two million metric tons per year from exporting countries like China and Thailand.
In Nigeria, the demand for rice has been on the increase since the mid 1970 (Awe, 2006; Daramola, 2005). During the 1960’s, Nigeria had a per capita annual rice consumption of 3 kg which increased to an average of 18 kg during the 1980’s, reaching 22 kg in the latter half of the 1990’s (FAO, 2002; Akpokodje et al., 2001). Since the mid-1980’s, rice consumption has increased at an average annual rate of 11% with only 3% explained by population growth. Also, within the decade of the 1990’s, Erenstein et al. (2004) reported a 14% annual increase in the demand for rice in Nigeria. The substitution of rice for coarse grains and traditional roots and tubers shifted the demand for rice to an average annual growth rate of 5.6% between 1961 and 1992 (Osiname, 2002).
In 2004 the Federal government launched the presidential initiative on rice to address the widening demand-supply gap and the attainment self-sufficiency in rice production. This was followed up with the National Rice Development Strategy in 2009 aimed at doubling rice production in Nigeria from 3.4 million metric tons in 2008 to 12.85 metric tons in 2018 by annually increasing land area by 300,000 hectares.
The new government policy seeks to transform Nigeria to be self-sufficient under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA). The rice implementation action plan will involve the establishment or improvement – where the mills already exist to improve the milling capacity of rice and by 2015, the Nigerian government plans to ban all rice imports and become self-sufficient
World production of rice has risen steadily from about 200 million tonnes of paddy rice in 1960 to over 678 million tonnes in 2009. The three largest producers of rice in 2009 were China (197 million tonnes), India (131 Mt), and Indonesia (64 Mt). Among the six largest rice producers, the most productive farms for rice, in 2009, were in China producing 6.59 tonnes per hectare.
New Rice for Africa ("NERICA") varieties, a cross between African and Asian rice, are being hailed as a “miracle crop” that can bring Africa its long-promised green revolution in rice. It has the following advantage over the local varieties:
· Early maturity (by 50–70 days) earlier than farmers varieties
· Resistance to local stresses (blast, stem borers, termites)
· High yield advantage (up to 6 tonnes per hectare under favourable conditions)
· Higher protein content (by 25%)
· Good taste
· Early maturing (within 80–100 days; i.e. 50–70 days earlier than farmers’ varieties)
Local rice varieties in Nigeria enjoy reasonable patronage due to its more palatability over the foreign rice. Famous among these local rice are the Ofada rice popular in the South West, Abakaliki in the South East among others. Though, the level of patronage cannot compare with the foreign rice. Ofada is noted for its sweet taste while Abakaliki’s soaring patronage is attributed to its distinctive taste.
Rice has become a strategic food security crop in Nigeria today with the country being the largest producer and consumer in West Africa, producing an average of 3.4 million metric tons (MT) of paddy rice, equivalent to 1.8 million metric tons of milled rice (Daramola 2005; UNEP 2005). Rice grows in all the agro ecological zones as diverse as the Sahel of Borno state and the coastal swamps of the southwest and south-south. Nigeria is endowed with favorable ecologies for rice cultivation. Virtually all the rice growing ecologies (the upland irrigated, inland valley swamp, deep water floating and tidal mangrove swamp) abound in Nigeria.
In spite of the fact that rice is cultivated in virtually all the agro-ecological zones in Nigeria, area cultivated to rice is still small (1.8 million hectares out of 5 million hectares). Estimate of locally produced milled rice for year 2008 was 1.8 million MT against demand of 5 million MT (NRDS, 2009).
Processing of Rice
Rice when it is still covered by the brown hull is known as paddy; rice fields are also called paddy fields or rice paddies. Before marketing, the rice is threshed to loosen the hulls (mainly by flailing, treading, or working in a mortar) and winnowed free of chaff by tossing it in the air above a sheet or mat. This local method that characterizes rice processing, leading to reduced quality causing the rapid appraisal of imported rice customer. Preferences confirmed that imported rice cleanliness is the overwhelming factor explaining the expansion of imported rice consumption in Nigeria at the cost of local rice market development.
Nigerians quest, to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production by 2015, can only be achieved through transforming rice harvesting and processing using modern rice processing mills. Which are equipped with thresher to reduce the drudgery associated with manual harvesting of paddies and the winnowers to removes unwanted elements, such as stones.
For more information contact: email@example.com
 International Rice Research Institute The Rice Plant and How it Grows. knowledgebank.irri.org
 Daramola B. (2005): Government Policies and Competitiveness of Nigerian Rice Economy. A Paper presented at the `Workshop on Rice Policy & Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa’ organized by WARDA, Cotonou, Republic of Benin, November 07-09.
 National Rice Development Strategy (2009): Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD).
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