No Sale

19.12.2011 | kyivweekly.com.ua

Ukrainians keep their farmland for the time being

Farmland will stay in the hands of Ukrainian farmers at least until 2013. The law on land sales received huge support in parliament after the first reading, signaling that it should pass easily. The law itself allows only Ukrainian citizens or the state to buy farmland which can be used to grow agricultural commodities. Moreover, there will be a cap on the amount of land any one person can buy 100 hectares. This ensures that there will be no large scale or mega farmers that can monopolize commodities markets. Foreign investors, on the other hand, have called Ukraine backwards or not progressive, at the same time failing to realize the cultural implications of land ownership in Ukraine. Farmland is a tricky issue that has importance for tradition and the economy. Since independence the ownership of rich agricultural land has been under threat. As an agrarian people, Ukrainians have been closely connected to farming for centuries. Their stewardship is sentimental and personalized, but since independence generations of tradition have gone out the window with the social and economic crash of the 1990s. Already in the provinces, individuals and companies have been buying up small plots from villagers who have left to find more lucrative employment abroad or in large cities. If this trend continued, a threat exists that those living in villages and farming will not own any land, and a new type of serfdom would arise a yoke Ukrainians worked hard to throw off a century ago. The land itself would be destined to be owned by faceless big corporations, threatening Ukraines food supply. Moreover, the specter of the Holodomor is too fresh in the public mind for the country to give up control of its food production. Parliaments of the past two decades have not been known for their foresight or wise decisions. And however much they may have been salivating at the profit to be made from farmland sales, parliament after parliament has ensured that the country is able to feed itself and not sell out to foreign interests or monopolists.

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