India has lifted its ban on rice exports, in order to provide relief to cyclone-ravaged Bangladesh.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee made the announcement on Saturday, during a short visit to Bangladesh in which he met with officials and surveyed areas devastated by the November 15th storm.
Mukherjee said India will allow Bangladesh to import 500-thousand tons of rice to meet post-cyclone emergencies.
Bangladesh's government has asked for a half-million tons of food aid from the international community to help the more than two million people displaced by Cyclone Sidr.
The Indian foreign minister also handed out relief goods, including milk powder, blankets, water filters, food and medicine. He said India also will help in the rehabilitation of 10 severely damaged coastal villages.
India had placed a ban on rice exports due to a shortage that caused domestic prices to rise.
Cyclone Sidr slammed into Bangladesh nearly two weeks ago, killing around 35-hundred people. It is the worst cyclone to hit Bangladesh in years.
Separately today, the United Nations Children's Fund began a mass distribution of high-energy biscuits and food supplies to children and pregnant women in severely affected districts.
UNICEF officials say half of the people affected by Cyclone Sidr are children, and many are suffering from malnutrition and are at risk for water-borne diseases such as diarrhea.
Bangladesh forestry officials today said nearly a quarter of the country's mangrove trees were devastated by the storm. Officials say at least 15-hundred kilometers of forest were damaged. Bangladesh is home to the Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forest.