Rice Production: Pre-Planting Activities

This post by Nextech Agri Solutions aims to provide practical knowledge necessary for small-scale farmers entering the rice production business. Beginning with the pre-planting activities, this post will cover the rice varieties to choose from, information on seed quality, crop calendar and land preparation.

These are 4 of the most important activities before the rice planting, and needs to be taken care of if one anticipates a high, prosperous yield.

1. Selecting the rice variety

It’s fairly important to begin with healthy seeds of a locally adapted rice variety. This ensures that the crop has a high yield and attracts good market price, and is also cheaper than importing high-potential varieties from other countries.

Mentioned below are the characteristic features a good rice variety must possess:
– Appreciable cooking characteristics, colour, aroma, taste and shape
– High selling price
– Stability
– Optimum yield over multiple seasons
– High tillering capability for competing against weed
– Tolerance against crop diseases and pests
– Resistance to droughts and floods
– Exact maturity length that matches the growing season

2. Seed quality

The crop quality entirely depends on the seeds sown. Since seeds are the foundation of any crop, it becomes pivotal that one ensures that the seeds utilized are of optimal quality.

Good quality seeds ensure the following benefits:
– Increased uniformity
– Less replanting
– Lower seed rate
– Better emergence (greater than 70%)
– High initial growth
– Increased resistance against pests, insects and diseases
– Decreased weed
– Increased yield

The following factors are used to determine the quality of rice:
– Varietal purity: It involves the percentage of germination, moisture content, weed, other crop seeds, stones and red rice seeds.
– Viability: Germination potential, moisture level and vigour are used to determine the seed viability.

The germination rate is indicative of seed vigor. A swift rate of germination shows that the seed will establish itself well in the field stage. Weaker seeds are easily affected by environmental stress and are known to produce weaker seedlings.
– Moisture Content: As such, moisture content should be less than 14%

3. Crop Calendar

Crop calendar provides for a reliable framework for all the subsequent farming activities.
It provides a clear schedule from seed sowing to storage and allows the farmers to:
– Decide the input purchase
– Prepare a budget for all the activities
– Determine labour, capital and credit requirement
– Prepare land and harvest

Based on local experience and with the help of agricultural promoters, determine the best date to plant. Determine the time it takes for your chosen variety to harvest. Establish the labour and finance requirements at each of the subsequent steps, i.e. plowing, weeding, fertilizing, etc.

4. Land Preparation

This is the final step before we begin with the planting. It is an important step which helps control weeds, recycles plant nutrients and provides for a sustainable surface and soil mass for direct seeding.

As such, land preparation either begins during fallow, i.e. the period wherein a field is left uncultivated so it regains its fertility, or immediately after the previous harvest. Moreover, it usually takes around a month for complete land preparation.

It typically involves 3 different stages which are:
– Clearing the field
– Creating compost from rice residues
– Planting cover crops to enrich soil and suppress weeds

How KRBL turned out to be India’s Biggest Basmati Exporter?

‘I wish we had retained our full name, Khushi Ram and Behari Lal, instead of the acronym KRBL, since it speaks volumes about our legacy,’ reminisces Anil K Mittal. ‘After all, there’s a lot in a name.”

The famous Shakespearean phrase, ‘what’s in a name?’ has little to no importance in Anil K Mittal’s life. Anil is the chairman and managing director of India’s largest Basmati rice firm, KRBL – the manufacturers of the immensely popular India Gate Basmati Rice brand, among many others.

KRBL, since its inception in 1889, has come a long way. Currently headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, it was not the company actualized. It was founded in Lyallpur, the modern day Faisalabad situated in Pakistan. Back then, rice mills were simply a tiny chunk of their overall business plan and the company had interests in cotton spinning, textiles and banking.

Now, KRBL prides itself on being the world’s largest rice exporter and miller. It has over 30% share of domestic and 25% share of the branded basmati rice export market, with 2 functioning plants in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh with a combined milling capacity of 195 metric tons per hour.

For the financial year that ended on 31st March 2016, KRBL reported a total income of 3,594 crore, with a net profit of 334 crore. Over the last years, its capitalization has grown at a CAGR of 86%, touching 9,699 crore on March this year. Given the company’s brand value, lower cost of raw inputs and higher price realization, the statistics are not at all surprising.

The company managed it through various developments in its distribution channel, which further helped them penetrate and deepen their roots in the domestic market. They also successfully increased their presence across international markets and that helped them reduce financial vulnerabilities.

Delving back in time, Anil remembers how he formally joined the company in 1968 with the sole aim to leave an indelible mark in the family of businessmen. Once he had garnered enough experience, Anil set off on his own journey with a tender to supply barley to the army. That, he recalls, was the turning point in his life. And by the 90s, KRBL had transitioned into a fully-fledged rice business.

In 2003, after numerous successful decisions and eventful years, Anil decided to take over a sick unit in Punjab by the name of Oswal Agro Furane. The decision seems to have worked in their favour, and today, it is the largest rice plant in the world, processing about a million ton of paddy in a year. With a capacity of 140 metric tons per hour, it processes about 7% of Punjab’s paddy cultivation.

Now run by Anil, his brothers and his daughter, KRBL firmly believes that strength of a firm comes from its own people. And the employees should be given a fair chance at functioning like entrepreneurs within their realms, if a business wants to grow.

For more of such industry-specific news, keep following Nextech’s blogs.