About 20 trucks loaded with seeds left the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott for six regional capitals on Friday, under a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiative introduced to counter the global food crisis, a UN report said.
The trucks will deliver more than 500 tons of sorghum, millet, maize and cowpea seeds to the country's south and southeast under the FAO's Initiative on Soaring Food Prices.
Distribution in other regions will be managed by the Mauritanian government. Most of the crops need to be planted immediately to coincide with the rainy season, which normally arrives in June.
Successive dry spells and floods destroyed crops last year, said Luca Fornasari, the FAO emergency coordinator in Mauritania.
The price of "imported food is skyrocketing and farmers had to sell their seed stocks to be able to buy food, or had to use them as food. Seed delivery will help farmers get back on their feet now," he added.
Agriculture is still the source of income for over 70 per cent of Mauritania's poorest people.
The FAO initiative is also active in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Haiti this season, with activities set to begin soon in East Timorand Mozambique.
More than 70 countries are seeking FAO assistance in the upcoming planting seasons in October and November as well as for next spring, the UN body said.
Some 1.7 billion U.S. dollars will be needed to fully support the Initiative, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf has said.