Ukraine to open land market: attitude of stakeholders in UHBDP Survey

Христина Кузнєцова

Land market status
On the night of March 31, 2020, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted for the opening of land market, which is scheduled for July 1, 2021.

2021 also marks twenty years from the first time Ukrainian politicians raised the idea of creating a land market – but because of the Orange Revolution, economic crisis’, changes in government, the Euromaidan, and the Donbas war, the decision kept being pushed back.

Citizens of Ukraine, legal entities, territorial communities, and state will be able to buy the land under this law. The main provisions of the adopted bill are listed here.

Due to the ban on agricultural land market in Ukraine (the moratorium on sale), the only legal way to access the agricultural land was to rent or lease it. Land leases are usually long-term and are concluded for an average of 8-10 years. However, land rent is cheap, and the market is uncompetitive. As a rule, only one tenant applies for a unit lease and dictates the price. For several years in a row, the IMF has been calling on Ukraine to lift the land sales moratorium and proceed with agrarian reform. The World Bank calls land reform a key and urgent one for the country and stresses that agricultural land prices will increase after market opening, which will bring inflow of capital.

Picture from latifundist.com

According to a poll conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in conjunction with the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, 24% of those polled have a positive attitude to the decision to open the land market, and 58% have a negative attitude.

At UHBDP we have conducted our own opinion survey, asking small-holder horticultural producers and other market actors to share their attitude to the planned land market opening.

The survey, which took place in February 2020, was filled by over 450 respondents from different parts of Ukraine. The geography of the participants is presented on the map. The size of the green circle is proportional to the number of answers received. The larger the circle, the more answers from the area are received. 83% of all respondents are employed in the agro-sector. Of the respondents who cultivate land in 2020, the majority cultivate an area of less than 20 hectares. 75% of participants were men, 25% were women. Nearly three-quarters of participants are middle-aged (31-60 years), while young people (18-30 years old) are 12% and older people (60+) are 11%.

Geography and Demography of Respondents

Key observations

Majority of those surveyed, namely 64%, are negative towards the opening of land market and the abolition of the moratorium on land sale. At the same time, this observation is even higher among people who do not own the land but only rent it from someone or are not occupied in the agricultural sphere at all. In that case, 80% of respondents are against the opening of the land market and free sale of land. The most common arguments of such respondents are distrust to the government and inability (lack of financials) to buy land for themselves. Other arguments from opponents of the free land market also include the view that all land in Ukraine will be purchased by foreigners.

“Land is holy to us. Ukrainians are poor and will not be able to buy it, whereas foreigners will come and buy it all »

An interesting point is that people who are engaged in the agricultural sector and cultivate the land, are more positive in their support of the land market, among them 38% support the land market.

Their arguments are as follows: the desire to freely sell their own property, a fair rent to the landowners, the withdrawal of the land market from the shadow schemes, as using them one can actually purchase the land on the black market.

“I own agricultural land, but I cannot sell it if I want to, even though it is my property. The abolition of the moratorium on the land sale and introduction of the land market, makes it possible to attract investment, which in turn will allow Ukraine to become a leader in agricultural production in the world very soon.”

Almost 30% of respondents who voted for and against the land market said that they needed more information on land market launch to make a final decision. Comments from both sides were that they need objective and clear facts.

"In order to be confident in my decision, I need clarification on the land market; I certainly miss details on such an important issue. And I am not alone, I need explanatory and objective information given from different sides and angles, including “what if” scenarios »

As our survey shows, 98% of respondents still had an opinion, and less than 2% chose "I don't know" or "I'm not concerned".

Attitudes of men and women towards the opening of the land market

Among men who welcome the decision to open the land market are 42%, in to contrast to women, where positive are just 17%. While 83% of women and 58% of men are against opening the land market. Particularly negative are those women who are not engaged in the agro-sector or do not have land: more than 90% of them are against the open land market.

Responses from middle-aged respondents indicate that only 36% of people aged 31 to 60 support the launch of the land market, while 50% of young people, 18-30, and 40% of people aged 60+ support the opening of the market. 35% of older people say they need more information on the topic. While among young and middle-aged people 26% and 30% respectively need more information on the topic.

For those who needs more information

For those who needs more information: details and consequences land market opening, we recommend a ground-based course on the land market "The Truth About the Land: Market VS Moratorium" (In Ukrainian), organized by Open Maidan University. This course aims to create an understanding of the context of land reform in Ukraine.

Below are some of the arguments that our survey respondents wrote in favor or against land market opening.

SUPPORT LAND MARKET OPENING

I have a land plot, I want to sell it, but I can not. I also have a large garden, which I myself can not get around. I would use the money to support my family.
The owner has the right to dispose of his property. Those who want to buy land should not look for gray schemes, but realize their desire on the free market
Property must be a commodity.
I have a desire to sell a share of my land and buy farm equipment to cultivate the rest of my land.
I support that you have the right to buy / sell ... To develop market conditions. Nobody is forcing anyone to sell ...
First of all, land market exist as black and illegal, it needs to be legalized. Secondly, land market brings confidence of long-term investments in agriculture. And thirdly, that's how the whole civilized world lives.
The land market exists in any developed country. I'm not going to sell my land. I am waiting for affordable credits.
I am 24 years old, I want to get involved in growing vegetables, but I can't because it is unrealistic to aquire a piece of land now
On the leased land, they don't give a damn, but they will keep their own in a good shape
I am the land owner and now I can not fully dispose my property. The lifting of moratorium on the sale and the introduction of the land market makes it possible to attract investment, which in turn will allow Ukraine to become a leader in agricultural production in the world very quickly.

AGAINST LAND MARKET OPENING

Land cadastre is missing, so what exactly we are going to sell?
There are no honest responsible government officials. Our legislation and law is weak. Ukraine is corrupt, so there will be many black schemes
No sales, but long term lease, for 49 years, where the states should guarantee the transparency of transactions and quality of the soil.
Only the oligarchs have the ability to buy land, and ordinary Ukrainians, as they were hungry, will remain hungry. How will they purchase land if the salary they receive remain 4700UAH (150 USD)
There is a war in our country, therefore this question is not for now to discuss.
The common man who works on the land, can not afford to buy it.
Ukrainian land is the property of Ukrainian people.
A commodity is what is produced. And soil, air, sun, and, water - cannot be a commodity ... In some cases, soil (that is, the right to use it) can be transferred to community in exchange for addressing the urgent need: for food production, for housing, for living in a boarding house for the elderly, the sick, etc.

People in this conversation

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