FAO sends seeds, tools for Central Africa farmers

The UN food agency on Friday said it had launched a major operation to distribute seeds and tools to farmers in the conflict-torn Central African Republic to help the next planting season.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said it was confronting "inaccessible roads and a deteriorating security situation" in a race against time.

FAO said it would distribute hand tools and 1,800 tonnes of staple crop seeds by May to some 378,500 people.

It said deliveries began in April and 11,660 farming families had already received "agricultural kits" -- 25 kilogrammes (67 pounds) of seeds and two hoes each.

"The volatile security situation is making the operation challenging and there have been attacks on aid convoys in recent weeks," FAO representative Alexis Bonte said.

FAO is coordinating with the World Food Programme to ensure the kits are provided together with emergency food rations so that families are not forced to eat the seeds.

The agency said it had received more than $30 million for its operations in the conflict-riven country but required $17.5 million more to help poor farmers.