NEW FOOD "SURGE" FOR HAITI - WFP (AFP)
PORT-AU-PRINCE — The World Food Program is to launch a food "surge" in Haiti from Saturday to boost rations for nearly two million people in the impoverished quake-torn country, a spokeswoman told AFP.
WFP staff in the capital Port-au-Prince were handing out coupons on Friday that will be exchanged for the food "baskets" comprising rice, beans, fortified flour, oil and salt to be distributed to the end of the month, Silke Buhr said.
The parcels are designed to feed a family of five for a month, she said.
A total of 1.9 million people will receive the rations -- more than covering the 1.3 million people left homeless by the January 12 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people.
The new distribution expands on an initial emergency food surge for three million people following the disaster that mostly consisted of rice handouts.
The WFP said it has also started a program to feed school-age children in Port-au-Prince.
The initiative began last week in and will initially distribute meals of rice and beans, and fortified porridge to 72,000 children from school yards across the capital. Eventually it aims to feed 800,000 children.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the priority is agriculture ahead of Haiti's mid-March crop planting season.
"During spring, in March, it's the planting season and the crops that are planted in March makes up 60 percent of the national needs, so it is very urgent that the agriculture sector gets funding," spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.
"Support to agriculture is urgent and essential in the time remaining before the start of the rains in April," she added.
Some 70.6 million dollars are needed by the agriculture sector, according to the UN, but donors have so far only put up 12 percent of the sum.
"It's not enough," said Byrs.