World News

Barroso says unspent EU farm aid to go to Africa

TOYAKO, Japan (Reuters) - The European Union will channel 1 billion euros (790 million pounds) in unused European farm subsidies to African farmers as part of its response to the global food crisis, the head of the EU executive said on Monday.

“The EU really can give a boost to agriculture in developing countries,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters on the first day of a meeting of G8 rich nations’ leaders in northern Japan, where soaring food prices are high on the agenda.

The EU executive has previously outlined its intention of taking up to 1 billion euros of unspent EU farm subsidies between now and the end of 2009 and using the money for seed and fertiliser and other agriculture projects in Africa.

The proposal will have to be approved by ministers from the EU’s 27 countries and the European Parliament.

Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy eats up more than 40 billion euros a year in subsidies and other farm spending.

The World Bank has estimated that about $10 billion (5 billion pounds) is needed in short-term aid to help poor countries face the global food and fuel price crisis.

Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Hugh Lawson