Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (Mirror Weekly), Agency for Legislative Initiatives and Internews held the round table “When and how will land reform end?”. Among the speakers were experts who are engaged in the implementation of the open land market and experts with alternative views on this process.
According to Oleg Nivievsky, Assistant Professor of the Kyiv School of Economics, Ukraine is ready to open the agricultural land market. Studies of the Kyiv School of Economics show a significant macroeconomic impact of the land market opening. In particular, Ukraine could expect accelerating economic growth by 1.5-2% of GDP each year. But Mr. Nivievsky thinks that without the introduction of effective mechanisms for the development of farming this effect will not be so sustainable. In his opinion, there should be a special guarantee fund that would provide loans for the farmers. The government and the World Bank are working now together to create it.
According to Hlib Vyshlinskiy, Executive Director of the Center for Economic Strategy, Ukraine needs other transformations to strengthen investment protection and property rights, simplify business for farmers.
Tatiana Unkovska, Director of the Optima Expert-Analytical Center, said that the launch of free land markets without the necessary regulation to the loss of land, which was in possession of the citizens of rural areas, and increased food risks in several countries. According to her colleague Vitaliy Lomakovych, a free market of agricultural land, which is controlled and regulated by the state preventing abuse and manipulation in the market, is good for Ukraine. Mr. Lomakovych reminded the audience that the land cadaster is now filled by only 70% and until this indicator reaches 100%, it will be impossible to avoid abuse.
Almost all the experts agreed that the main purpose of opening the market should be stimulation of the farms’ development in Ukraine since it is the easiest way to increase productivity in the agriculture and it has a direct impact on the development of rural areas.
However, Ivan Fursenko, Deputy Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Association of Rural and Settlement Councils, is convinced that until territorial communities don’t have the opportunity to dispose of agricultural lands on their territories (including lands outside settlements), it is difficult to say about the development of farming and the positive effect for the development of territories.
The experts think that the right of priority purchase of land by the agrarians, who are now renting these lands, is a doubtful solution because in the vast majority the renters are large producers. According to Andriy Martyn, Senior Project Manager for Land Reform in the Reforms Delivery Office (RDO) of Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers, the large agricultural companies now have both the will and the financial resources needed to buy the land they are currently renting.
The experts agreed that the land market is necessary for Ukraine. However, hurry and lack of public discussion can hamper the process of its implementation.