Agriculture Development Strategy to be announced at the next session of National Reforms Council

Agriculture Development Strategy to be announced at the next session of National Reforms Council
August 26, 2015.

Kyiv, August 26, 2015. The final version of the strategy, which represents the consolidated position of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine, businesses and civic society, will be presented at the upcoming meeting of the National Reforms Council on September 3. Vladyslava Rutytska, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine, provided this information at a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center as a part of the Ukraine Communications Taskforce project.

Rutytska said that the strategy for agricultural sector development (hereinafter referred to as the Strategy) is an integral part of the President’s reformist program Strategy-2020 and was developed with the participation of over 170 independent experts, including the representatives of donor organizations. The Ministry of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine acted as a joint platform for initiating discussions. In total, over 100 workshops took place, elaborating various aspects of transformations to take place in the agricultural sector. “We were aiming at making the Strategy vivid and true to life, so that it reflects the problems and tasks facing agricultural producers of both small and large-scale, processers and procurers. We are pursuing three major directions, i.e. ‘legislation and deregulation’, ‘production factors and market relations’ and ‘environmental protection and rural development’,” said Rutytska.

Oleh Samus, head of the taskforce on Strategy preparations, emphasized that the Strategy’s linchpin is the compliance of agricultural development approaches with European standards. At the same time, he said that this process must not be hasty. “We are taking a measured approach of opening exports, as we have clear understanding that Ukrainian producers require substantial funds to duplicate the European approach. Thus, we treat the process of the EU requirements adaptation and deadlines with utmost care. Moreover, all changes will take place within the framework of the Ukrainian legislation and the EU Agreement of Association,” said Samus.

The Strategy’s developers suggest applying the same approach to choose an optimal model for land management. The authors propose the simultaneous implementation of pilot projects on various land management models in order to eliminate potential mistakes. Ukraine will adhere to the most successful model in the end. “The land management reform taskforce elaborated on specific proposals to improve lease governance, the State Cadastre and the Property Rights Register functioning, as well as preparations to the launch of the land market. The taskforce consists of twenty-four experts who are to finalize around fifty projects regarding statutory documents by the end of the year,” stated Oleksandr Zhemoida, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club and head of the Land Issues Taskforce.

The Strategy envisages the creation of the Agriculture Support Fund financed jointly by international donors and the state budget. The fund is expected to stimulate both rural development and the development of small and medium businesses “Now, we are thinking about the Fund’s sources, and what would be its function. I believe in a month or two, following the National Council’s meeting, we will have specific answers to these questions. We do understand that we will need donors to start feeding the Fund, and the state will join in later, as the state budget for the next years has already been drawn up,” explained Zhemoida.

Enzo Damiani, the Sector Leader on Agriculture, Food Safety and Land Reform of the EU Representative Office in Ukraine, who also participated in the Strategy development, believes the final version is a presentable result that Europe would need years to achieve, while Ukraine managed it in six months. “It is a document unprecedented for Ukraine which has not happened before. Its structure allows any donor the possibility to choose a specific direction and certain steps he can take to help implement projects. On the other hand, the Strategy’s implementation is a priority, where everyone – businesses, the state and donors – plays their role. We are to understand our priorities and what are the resources for their implementation. Donors are ready to help. But we need the government’s assurance that it will really pursue reforms and is ready to implement them,” emphasized Damiani.