Rice Farming: Post Production, Harvesting And Drying

In many a developing country, 25 to 50% of the total grain value is lost between the harvest and consumption, mainly due to poor storage techniques, farm level wastage, and processing. This leads to lower incomes for farmers and higher prices for buyers. Further, there’s a pressure on farmers to increase the production levels to attain higher rice yields and they end up using more land and fertilizers causing mass damage to the natural resources. This article aims at teaching you how to minimize grain losses and maintain rice quality for longer storage periods.

Step 1: Post production management

Post production management is all about how to handle the rice; from the time it’s harvested to the time it’s sold. Various processes such as cutting, hauling, cleaning and marketing the rice, etc. are involved. It’s particularly important because it prevents both qualitative and quantitative loss and with a poor post production management, you’re prone to losing as much as 50% of your total yield.

Step 2: Harvesting

This is simply a process of collecting the mature crop from the field; in our case, rice. Harvesting begins with cutting the crop and ends after it’s been prepared to dry. It involves:

– Cutting

– Field drying

– Hauling

– Piling

– Threshing

– Cleaning

– Packing (to send it further for drying)

Harvesting at the correct time ensures that you get the maximum yield, diminishing quality degeneration. There are, however, certain physical losses one has to face during the harvesting operations. These are loosely based on the operations and machinery used during harvesting. These losses:

– Occur during cutting

– Occur during threshing and

– Occur during grain handlings

To minimize, it’s important that you measure losses at each operation of harvesting and work upon it.

Step 3: Drying

The most critical operation once through the harvest, drying reduces the grain’s moisture content to a safe level ideal for storing it for longer durations. Moisture laden grain is prone to discolouration, development of molds and pest infestation. It also reduces the seed’s rate of germination, thus diminishing the overall grain quality. It happens when you:

– Wait too long before you begin drying

– Don’t dry it long enough, whatever be your purpose

– Wrong techniques

Ideally, you should begin drying within 24 hours after the harvest. The grains should be dried down to different Moisture Content (MC) for different purposes.

– 14% or less MC for storing up to a few months

– 13% or less MC to store for 8 to 12 months

– 9% or less for storing more than a year

Drying techniques:

– Traditional systems: Sun drying, field drying and stacking

– Mechanical systems: Heated air drying, low temperature drying, solar drying and grain cooling

Agricultural Reform in Nigeria

Before technology arrived and oil was discovered in Nigeria, Nigerians survived mainly on substantial farming. Nigerians survived on agriculture.

With the discovery of oil, Nigeria has been given another potentially profitably source of income. Oil exportation.

Till now, Nigeria is the fifth largest exporter of oil in the world and as a country, she has thrived on it. Subsequently it seemed that major agricultural pursuits had been abandoned, by the government and also by the people. Many young minds move to the cities to earn minimum wage, surrounded by substandard living conditions. Especially in states like Lagos, to get good accommodation in Lagos is a struggle considering that you can even afford it. Sometimes you have to settle on housing in Lagos that is more than forty miles away from their work place. People it seems are overlooking the gold mines that they walk on everyday; the soil.

But no longer!

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said the Federal Government will soon release N10 billion for cassava bread development fund and to further boost the cassava production.

This great news was revealed to Nigerians when the Senior Technical Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adetunji Oredipe, who represented Adesina in Kogi State at the Cassava GES Roll Out at Agbadu Staple Crop Processing Zone, SCPZ, in Kabba Bunu Local Government Area of the state.

He said that the government established the cassava bread development fund, which is to be supported financially through the tariff on wheat flour.

He added that the Cassava Bread Development Fund would also be used to support research and development efforts on cassava bread, training of bakers and support for bakers for the getting of new equipment for production.

The minister said that the Growth Enhancement Scheme will allow the farmers to produce more food because the farmers will receive their improved cuttings and fertilizers.

This marks a major breakthrough in Nigeria’s drive to support the Farmers, especially the modern cassava farmers and help them adopt more efficient agricultural practices.

This is also gives many people in Nigeria the assurance that they will have something else to depend on for nationwide development, a source of income and also progress other than the oil exportation that Nigeria so heavily depends on right now.

With the progress that is going to be made with this new project that has been undertaken we can expect that the agricultural sector in Nigeria is going to get a substantial boost.

In addition to this, there are talks about the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan going to sign a Biosafety bill into law. Although he set up a committee to vet the biosafety bill as passed by the National Assembly. This bill has been long awaited for a while now and the committee have called on the president not to further delay signing the bill.

This is also meant to push towards the goal of Nigeria achieving food sufficiency in 2015.

God-willing, this will be a reality.

Farm Safety – National and Local Resources

The issue of health and safety on farms and agricultural businesses is one where many farmers and operatives often need to seek help.

This can apply to practical issues, local or national legislation, as well as immediate emergencies. Running a farm or related industry can be quite an isolated business, and it is important that whoever is running it is aware of the help that is available, and makes use of the wide resources available, both in real-time and online.

Safety Resources

It is important to identify firstly what help is needed, before deciding who to approach. This is likely to start with a risk analysis of the farm and its environment, and understanding of how the risks can be managed and which need to be insured, and what training may be needed for any or all operatives.

Safety training is a big issue on farms and related environments.

Historically most training was seen as being done on the job, but that has changed significantly in recent years, in large part due to the Internet.

Many local colleges and universities also offer degrees and programs in all types of farm management and safety, and they are often an ideal source for first contact

Universities and colleges often have specific dedicated units dealing with health and safety relating to agricultural matters, either that they teach as part of their course or which are required by local statute.

In addition to these, many colleges of health training for nurses and doctors are also an excellent resource as well as veterinary medicine colleges.

Universities and colleges can sometimes seem a bit remote, but in this area are genuinely keen to help where ever possible.

They are often able to advise on risk management, and the best type of training available. Many colleges also offer online training, and may even be able to devise specific programs for a particular branch of forming if required.

If they are unable to help with a specific requirement, they are likely to be able to recommend another resource or safety experts may be able to be more help.

Other sources of help

The other areas of help tend to fall into two categories of Public and Private.

The areas they may be able to help and will depend upon the specific need identified by the farm management, who can then either approach the relevant body or company to see if they can assist.

As a general guide, the public sources of help relate to areas such as traffic laws and road hazards, where the local police department is possibly the first place to call.

Alternatively local state legislature may be able to help get some reason the local police or fire department are unable.

In the event of any fatality that may occur in relation to farm or agricultural activity, the local county coroner will be involved and may be able to offer guidance in specific areas.

The other public sources of help generally relate to local or national government.

They will have specific departments relating to agriculture and health, as well as many others. These two departments in particular should have a wealth of experience and materials available specifically to help in these areas.

This can include training as well as all types of risk management tools that are available.

Many local governments also have specific teams dedicated to helping small businesses, as well as large ones. A lot of farm management practices could well find succour sources invaluable.

The sources of help available that are private tend to be companies or businesses who work in the agricultural industry.

They can be helpful either by way of providing advice or information, or by helping in the event of a problem emergency.

In terms of health and safety management and training, businesses who work in the electrical service industry, machinery and equipment dealers and private business safety consultants are often willing to provide details of programs and training regarding their services or the industry more generally.

Sales representatives of all products especially pesticides are often willing to provide safety information and training either as part of their sales program, or as an additional benefit in order to try and secure a sales lead.

It is always worth being aware of the fact that if an accident or emergency happens on a farm, it is highly likely that it will take a while for any emergency services to rise, given the remote nature of most farms and their distance from local communities.

It is highly important to recognise the need for on-site training regarding first aid and manual handling, including CPR. First aid training should be as extensive as possible to include items such as to how to deal with burns, electric shocks etc.

It is also important that the former management should have lists of all local emergency contacts with phone numbers, e-mail and websites readily available this should include all local doctors and nurses, emergency poison helplines, volunteer fire departments, and all types of emergency services such as ambulances etc.