In Uganda, there are mainly two types of rice grown. This is upland rice, which can be grown even on fairly dry areas and paddy rice that is specifically grown in swampy areas.
Currently, there are 591 rice mills operating in Uganda, which include 11 large processing mills with destoners and packing units (1.7% of milling capacity), mill tops (20.8% of milling capacity) and rudimentary poor-performing Engelberg mills (77.5% of milling capacity).
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, one can earn between sh7.5 to 10m per acre. Retail price ranges between sh3,200 to sh4,000. Exotic basmati costs sh6,000 per kg. This is against an investment of about sh2-3m 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 to target a higher yield. However, even though it is called upland rice, it can perform well in lowlands.
Do not, however, plant it in areas that flood because the water will wash the crop away.
There are several varieties of rice in Uganda. Seeds are available from most farm inputs 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 three to five tonnes per acre. However, overall yield depends on the amount of rainfall, pattern and agronomic practices, for example, the planting spacing.
For upland rice, fine soils, for example, loam are recommended because coarse soils, for example, 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 better weed management. Levelling also contributes to uniformed plant growth.
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 a higher seeding rate when planting.
However, if it is over 80%, use standard seeding rate. The standard seeding rate is three seeds per hole.
It is difficult to determine seed viability with the naked eyes.
It is advisable to carry out seed selection using the 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 the seeds you intend to plant.