The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said that the Federal Government would support rice and flour millers to establish additional milling factories for the economy to thrive.
Ogbeh gave the assurance in Suru, Suru Local Government Area of the Kebbi on Friday while on a one-day assessment tour of the rice farms in the area.
The minister commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Kebbi Government for the successful implementation of the Anchor Borrowers Rice and Wheat production programme in the state.
The minister was accompanied by the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, Gov Atiku Bagudu, Sen. Adamau Aliero and some prominent farmers including, Alhaji Garba Dandiga and Hakimi Jiga.
Ogbeh said the programme was aimed at diversification of the economy into agriculture and other multi-sectoral aspects of the national economy.
He said the programme would end the total dependence on oil revenue, stressing that the Federal Government would ensure food security and a multifaceted economic development.
Ogbeh tasked the state government on meeting the target production of one million metric tons of rice out of the projected seven million metric tons expected to be produced nationwide.
According to him, the Federal Government spends 5million US Dollars to import rice yearly, which is unacceptable to the present administration.
The minister added that the programme would reverse the importation trend and save the nation foreign reserve.
In his remarks, the CBN Governor, Emefiele, said the bank provided financial support to large scale rice farmers in the state to boost farming activities and food production.
These included Labana Rice Mills, which received N740 million and Umza, N1.2 billion, while 3,526 farmers with Labana and Umza were also provided with farm inputs.
Emefiele said that the bank also supported 70,871 farmers with farm inputs.
He said the bank had invested N4.9 billion on the programme, while the state was supported with N2 billion.
Emefiele disclosed that the bank registered 70,871 farmers in Kebbi for the Anchor borrower programme, adding that 40,000 kilometres of farmlands are under cultivation for the large scale production of rice and wheat.
He said that the programme had created 500,000 jobs nationwide.
Emefiele commended Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi for fully implementing the programme that commenced in 13 other states nationwide.
Bagudu, in his remark, said that the programme engaged all genuine farmers devoid of political, ethnic or religious considerations.
He called on prospective farmers to register for the scheme to improve their economic status.
Malam Ayuba Uda, a large scale farmer in Suru Local Government Area, commended the Federal Government for the programme, saying that it had provided requirement for massive production of the crops.
He called for the provision of water pumping machines, fertiliser, insecticides, and financial support to farmers to ensure successful large scale production.