Skip to content

As a cereal grain, Rice is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population. To the average Nigerian, rice needs no introduction because it has become one of the most important foods in the country, consumed by both the wealthy and the poor. Massive importation of the commodity from countries like India, China, and Thailand therefore, occur largely because of the estimated amount of rice milled locally is placed at 1.8 million tons.

Most rice farmers in Nigeria are smallholders (90 percent of total), applying a low-input strategy to agriculture, with minimum input requirements and low output. Nigeria rice productivity is among the lowest within neighbouring countries, with average yields of 1.51 tonne/ha. Nigeria is the largest rice producing country in West Africa but is also the second largest importer of rice in the World. Rice is cultivated on about 3.7 million hectares of land in Nigeria, representing approximately 10.6 percent of the 35 million hectares of land under cultivation, out of a total arable land area of 70 million hectares in Nigeria Out of the 3,7 million hectares under rice cultivation, 77 percent of the farmed area is rain-fed rice, of which 47 percent is lowland and 30 percent upland. Rice is the third most important cereal grown and consumed globally after wheat and maize. In Nigeria, rice is cultivated in almost all ecological belts available in the country as they all provide favourable environments to support the crop.

Cultivated rice is generally considered a semiaquatic annual grass, although in the tropics it can survive as perennial, producing new tillers from nodes after harvest (ratooning). At maturity, the rice plant has a main stem and several tillers. Each productive tiller bears a terminal flowering head or panicle. Rice is cultivated in virtually all the agro-ecological zones in Nigeria, therefore successful cultivation of rice starts with choice of right rice variety suitable for the site. Because fields differ in their soil quality, the risk of flooding, or the risk of drought, a suitable variety must be selected for each field. Using suitable varieties minimizes the risk of crop loss or failure and ensures good yields. A suitable variety should give good yields, taste good, have a high market price, and many things more.

In the Nigerian context, some identifiable production constraints include but are not limited to;

  • Bottlenecks in the land tenure system and policy which limits accessibility to and availability of land.
  • Dearth of viable seed for rice farming.
  • Resistance and reluctance to frontier technology and farming system.
  • Weak fertilizer distribution system for timely resource availability.
  • Lack of financial resources to acquire agro-chemical such as herbicides, pesticides etc by farmers.
  • The relatively high and rising agrochemical prices in the economy

Innovation system is a network of organization, enterprise, and individuals focused on bringing new products, new processes and new forms of organizations into social and economic use, together with the institutions and policy that affect their behaviour and performance. Rice innovation system embraces the totality of the component actors, and their interaction and the policy environment. It tends to go beyond the creation of knowledge to encompass the factors affecting demand for and use of knowledge in useful ways. Innovative performance depends not only on how the individual actors perform in isolation, but also on how they interact with each other as element of a collective system of knowledge creation and use.

Published as FARA Research Results Vol2(3).