Rice growing in Uganda
Rice is a cereal and it is grown mostly in wetlands. I the past few years, it has become a popular food in the country and s preferred by most since it is easy to prepare. Locally known as Omuchelle it is production in Uganda begun in 1942 for the World War two soldiers.
It is farmed in Uganda by farmers country wide most especially in Eastern Uganda due to its lowland nature and wetlands and the estimated production is 165,000 metric tons or more.
There are two type of rice that is manly grown in Uganda and these include the following:
The lowland rice
It is also known as the paddy rice and it is the most grown rice in Uganda. It requires wetlands to grow well and the types grown in lowland rice are K85 and K6.
The upland rice
This is grown in areas that do not actually have swamps and an example of upland rice s NERICA 1, 4 and 10. It is mostly grown in Western Uganda.
Steps on how rice is planted
There different steps that one needs to know if they want to start rice farming and I have listed a few of them and if done rightly, you can start your rice project and earn big from it.
Prepare your land
Clear the field where you are going to plant the rice and determine the amount of water available. Make sure to give water a better water coverage by leveling the ground.
Preparing of the land will involve harrowing and plowing of the land and soil. When you rightly till the land, it allows the farmer plant the seeds at the right depth and the tilling can be done using animals like cows or hoes held by farmers and tractors if they are available. The tilling also allows easy weeding of the rice when the weeding time comes.
When the land is evenly leveled, a farmer can expect good quality grain, less labor and energy used to manage the crops and it also allows the seeds to sit firmly in the ground hence leading to good growth of the rice and better yields when harvesting.
Seed selection and crop establishment
Select the seeds that are going to be planted and sort them from the rotting ones. Sun dry them for about 1 to 2 days to reduce the dormancy of the seeds and after sun drying them, soak them in water to separate the empty husks from the good ones.
There are two main methods used when it comes planting rice and these include the transplanting and direct seeding.
- Direct seeding
Soak the seeds for a day and drain them for 24 hours. The seeds should be drained in a shade and not in sunshine and after this, pour the seeds onto the water covered soil evenly.
- Pour the seeds onto the surface of the water at 100kg/ha
- Add water to the soil to keep it moist.
- You should let the surface water drain into the soil naturally.
- After 10 to 15 days, add water that is permanent when the rice starts sprouting leaves.
- Finally apply fertilizers after adding permanent water.
- Transplanted crops
- Look for a nursery that is a tenth of the actual garden and prepare it by harrowing it once and doing the plowing at least twice before planting.
- Soak the seeds for 24 hours and dry them for another 24 hours in a shade and after this, pour the seeds onto the water and after this apply the fertilizers.
- Transplant the seeds to the main garden after 20 to 40 days in the nursery.
The harvesting process for rice
Harvesting rice depends on many things but most importantly the maturity of the crop. The different varieties mature at different rates but most of them achieve this between 105 to 150 days after establishing the crop. It can be done in two ways and that is mechanical and manual harvesting.
This is not commonly used because of the pricing of the machines but for those that use them, they can help from cutting the rice, separating the grain from the stem and cleaning the rice before packaging it for transportation.
The use of the machines reduces on the labor to be used during the rice growing process.
This is the most commonly practiced in Uganda and it roughly takes about 40 to 80 hours if you harvesting per hectare. It is very labor intensive and the farmers use sickles when harvesting. The only good thing about this is that a farmer gets to collect all the plants from the farm.
The steps involved when harvesting are listed below:
- The reaping process is the first step and it involves cutting the mature straw just above the ground after it drying.
- The threshing process and this involves separating the grain area from the rest of the straw that is cut.
- Cleaning or separation step is where the farmer separates the mature grain from the immature and non-grain materials.
- Hauling and drying, this is where the cut grain is packed and taken to the threshing area and it is taken for drying in the sun.
- Piling and bagging is where the crop is taken for storage before being packed and transported for permanent storage before sale.
Pests and diseases that attack rice
There are several diseases that attack rice and these are mainly caused by viruses, fungi or a bacterium which affect the rice and reduces the produce during harvesting. In order to control these diseases one needs to plant a more resistant type of rice and some of the diseases that attack rice include the red stripe which normally occurs during the reproductive stage and causes discoloring of the leaves.
These attack the plants either during their maturity days or when they are still during the milky stage. The examples of birds that normally eat the rice are the chestnut Munia and the Eurasian tree sparrow. These can be prevented by using cover nets over the rice or hire people to chase away the birds which is a bit expensive. But you can also spray the rice to keep them away or make scare crows.
Golden apple snail
These attack the rice from the irrigation system and they attack the rice in its early stages and destroy the whole plant from the stem. The golden apple snail is not like the normal snails as it has either a pink gold or brownish shell and its eggs are pink. They normally appear when the water is plenty and destroy the rice. Without the water they hibernate and wait until there is fresh water.
These can be controlled by hand picking the snails and burning them, spraying the rice and also allowing some predators like ants to eat off the eggs.
This affects the rice from the roots. It causes the roots to knot which limits the rice from getting the much needed nutrients and this leads to poor yields of rice being harvested at the end of the day due to limited nutrients.
Rice is attacked by insects mostly during its early stages and these include whorl maggots, worms and they end up eating the leaves. These can be prevented by spraying even though it’s not advisable to spray during the early stages of growth.
Challenges faced when growing rice in Uganda
There is inadequate knowledge about on rice farming in Uganda. Many farmers just venture into the rice business without finding out what is really before you start farming and this has become a challenge for the farmers.
The needed equipment needed to use when rice growing is quite expensive and cannot be afforded by the local people making it hard to plant, weed and harvest the rice.
The poor infrastructure in the country is a big challenge as it affects the transportation of rice hence the limited rice on the market.
The lack of drying facilities may cause farmers to dry the rice from the ground and this reduces the quality of the rice on the market.
There is also a challenge of less land for rice growing which makes it expensive to rent out land for farming. Rice is majorly grown in wetlands which are being degraded on a daily basis.
The rice is often attacked by pests in form of birds and diseases which reduces crop production in the country.
Benefits of growing rice in Uganda
Rice is a perennial cereal which is food eaten by most of the population in the country.
It is a source of income to the farmer after sales hence improving the livelihoods of the people.
Rice growing has provided employment to the people in form of labor reducing the unemployment levels.
Rice growing is a lucrative business that has gained wide market in the country. It needs a lot patience bt in the end you earn a lot.