ISLAMABAD  (APP) - The United States through United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations World Food Programme, Thursday signed an agreement with Food and Agriculture Ministry to provide $8.4 million food aid programme. Addressing the signing ceremony here at local hotel, the American ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson assured full cooperation and support from US to Pakistan to resolve its food crisis. She said, "The programme will benefit thousands of Pakistanis who are affected by the rising of basic food items." The Ambassador said she was pleased that many of the beneficiaries are Pakistani school children who are living in the most underdeveloped areas where the programme is being launched. She said the food support programme will also encouraged the parents to send their children to school. The Ambassador said US is proud to be a partner with WFP in this food assistance programme as it is a noble work. She said US has already been helping Pakistan in different sectors particularly in the food area. The United States will grant this amount to the World Food Program (WFP) and the UN agencies to provide approximately 11,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat to over 1,600,000 Pakistanis, including students in 3,200 schools. The WFP Country Director in Pakistan, Wolfgang Herbigner speaking on the occasion said the WFP has started distributing the food in 12 districts in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan. He said the residents in these areas have been identified by WFP as being among the most vulnerable, as a result of the sharp increase in food prices this past year. He thanked the USAID for extending the support and partnership in protecting school children and families in the parts of Pakistan that are suffering most from this sudden hike in food prices in the world. The WFP, UNESCO, the federal government, provincial education departments and schools will work together to organize special Parent-Teachers-Students Days ("School Days") on which food staples, including wheat rations of 50 kg per bag, will be distributed to families three times, between now and the beginning of the next wheat harvest in March and April, he added. He said these "take home" rations will serve as an economically difficult period for poor Pakistani families. He said the distribution of the wheat is tied to the WFP/UNESCO School Food Program and under the program, families that keep their children enrolled in school receive four liters of edible oil. The food aid will benefit 238,500 households and 265,000 boy and girl students in NWFP and Balochistan. Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal speaking on the occasion thanked the US government, USAID and WFP for extending their help and cooperation to Pakistan in this food crisis. He said Pakistan government has been providing a number of incentives to the farmers to improve crop production that include increase of support price of wheat from Rs. 510 to 625 per 40 kg and provision of inputs on confessional rates.      The Minister said due to increase in the oil prices at global level, there has been shortage of food in different areas of Pakistan and added that the programme launched today would help the poor families. Later, the American Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson, Secretary Food Zia ur Rehman, WFP Country Director Wolfgang Herbigner singed the agreement.