India has launched an ambitious food-for-work program aimed at helping millions of the rural poor stave off hunger and unemployment.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the anti-poverty program Sunday with a ceremony in a village in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The program will create jobs in 150 of the country's poorest districts that have been hit by natural disasters.

The farmers will build roads and bridges, dig irrigation canals, and repair water storage tanks. They will receive the equivalent of five kilograms of grain per day, with at least one fourth of the amount in cash.

Scant rainfall this year has forced many farmers to take loans and a small number of them committed suicide because they were unable to repay loans.

Creating jobs for millions of unemployed small farmers was a key promise made by Mr. Singh's Congress party before its surprise victory in May national elections.

Some information for this report provided by AP.