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June 08, 2011

Land Reform (lifting the moratorium)

Ukrainian society and most political forces have acknowledged the inevitability of forming a proper market for farmland. Still, the absence of a focused state policy and the lack of information mean that most voters are afraid that instituting a market for farmland will cost them their properties, make it impossible to use lands that are in the public domain or to access forested lands and waters. For this reason, a significant portion of civil society is against withdrawing the moratorium on the sale of land zoned for agricultural purposes.

Ukraine has a good opportunity to turn land reform from an unpopular move to one that has strong support among voters. On one hand, there is considerable dissatisfaction across the board among Ukrainians about the issue of land, as most rural dwellers own land without being able to properly dispose of their property. On the other, the lack of a land market means the country has no real means of improving the productivity of the farm sectorand increasing the level of investment in agriculture.

Launching public debate and making use of public policy instruments by engaging all interest groups and stakeholders in establishing what obstacles stand in the way of land reform and the policy decisions needed, understanding their positions, and mobilizing support among those who favor reform while neutralizing opponents, would allow the Government to choose the best configuration of land reform that will protect the rights of property owners while reflecting the interests of both rural Ukrainians who own land and those who do not have any land.

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