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Ukraine Allows Farmland Sales For First Time Since Independence

A combine discharges wheat from a field near the village of Krasne in the Chernihiv area.
A combine discharges wheat from a field near the village of Krasne in the Chernihiv area.

Ukraine has officially ended a 20-year moratorium on the sale of farmland, hoping to unleash productivity and investment in the agricultural sector.

The land market opened on July 1, more than a year after Ukrainian lawmakers passed a law lifting the ban on sales, as required to receive a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Known as the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine is one of the world’s largest agricultural producers and exporters.

After gaining independence in 1991, the government distributed agricultural land to small-scale farmers.

However, the farmers could only privately use the land or lease it to agribusinesses.

From July 1, individual Ukrainian citizens can buy up to 100 hectares, while agribusinesses will be able to take part in auctions from 2024 to buy up to 10,000 hectares.

Ukraine has 42 million hectares of farmland, about three-quarters of which is cultivated annually.

Large agribusinesses operate about 6 million hectares, while small and medium-sized companies operate another 11 million hectares.

According to the Ukrainian Agri Council, the end of the moratorium will provide transparency in land transactions, improve taxation, boost economic growth, and facilitate agricultural banking.

Opening up Ukraine's land market has been a controversial political issue for years, with opponents arguing it could lead to oligarchs dominating the land and foreigners replacing Ukrainians in purchasing some of the world’s most fertile soil.

For now, the law prohibits foreigners and foreign companies from buying farmland, something that can change only with a national referendum.

With reporting by Reuters and the Kyiv Post
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