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Grow rice, it will pay off

By A

Added 28th October 2020 06:32 PM

If one sells each kilogramme at sh2,500 on the farm, they can earn between sh7.5m-sh10m per acre

Grow rice, it will pay off

If one sells each kilogramme at sh2,500 on the farm, they can earn between sh7.5m-sh10m per acre

It was recently reported that the Government had allowed the importation of rice into the country tax-free in order to beat an impeding rice deficit.

Indeed, Uganda does not produce enough rice to feed its population and yet, the conditions for rice production are good enough. Improved practices have meant that yields are now increasing per acre.

Compared to a few years ago, rice is gradually turning into a money-maker, with average yields of 3-4 tonnes per acre.

If one sells each kilogramme at sh2,500 on the farm, they can earn between sh7.5m-sh10m per acre. Retail price ranges between sh3200 and sh4500. Exotic basmati costs sh7,000 per kilo. This is against an investment of about sh2-sh3m per acre.

Rice requires more water than other crops. It is, therefore, recommended to plant rice in lower parts of the field to reduce the drought risk and target a higher yield.

Even though there is upland rice, it can perform well in lowlands. Do not, however, plant it in areas that over-flood because the water will wash the crop away.

Variety selection

There are several varieties of rice in Uganda. Seeds are available from most farm input dealers. However, make sure that you tell the seeds dealer exactly where you are going to plant the rice. If it is not a swampy area, then select the upland rice varieties, but if it is a swampy area then select the paddy rice varieties. They have a maturity period of 110-130 days, with a yield of 3-5 tonnes per acre. However, overall yield depends on the amount of rainfall, pattern and agronomic practices, for example, the planting spacing.

Land preparation

  • For upland rice, fine soils, for example loam, are recommended because coarse soils such as sandy bring poor yields.
  • For lowland rice that is planted in water, bunding with 30-60cm and levelling is recommended for a higher yield. Boulders or bunds enable you to control the water and weed management. Levelling also contributes to uniformed plant growth.

Seed preparation

  • Count 100 seeds and soak them in water for 24 hours. Wrap the seeds in wet paper for 48 hours and thereafter count the number of seeds that have germinated.
  • If the germination rate is lower than 80%, use higher seeding rate when planting.
  • However, if it is over 80% use standard seeding rate.
  • Standard seeding rate is three seeds per hole.
  • It is difficult to determine seed viability with the naked eye. It is advisable to carry out seed selection using flotation method. This is when you put the seeds in a basin of water and then retain only the seeds that sink and leave those that float because they are not viable. You can soak all.

Compiled by Joshua Kato (editor Harvest Money) and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)

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