Ukraine may issue law affording rapid agricultural expansion

Ukraine, the land of black soil is already an important player in the global food crisis - it’s a big exporter of wheat, and one of the reasons wheat prices have spiked this past year is because Ukraine had a particularly bad harvest last year. This year, it’s been a rainy March and April, so the harvest is set to be good. Very good. Global wheat prices have already started to fall on the news.

Ukraine could actually be a much bigger player on the wheat and corn market. It was once the bread basket of Europe, the land of famously fertile ‘black soil’, and was an exporter of corn to ancient Greece 2,000 years ago. It provided much of the corn for the Soviet Union, to the excitement of president Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, who was never happier than when discussing Ukrainian farming techniques.

But the country’s agriculture sector has been a real mess since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Only a quarter of its vast tracts of arable land are properly farmed, and a quarter of land isn’t used at all. This is mainly because of the country’s lack of a basic land code to allow the buying and selling of land.

The government may finally pass such a law this year, which would allow the sector to develop rapidly, and would ease pressure on global food prices in the mid-term. The EU should probably tell Ukraine’s prime minister, Yulia Timoshenko (pictured, whose hair oddly enough actually resembles a bread basket), to get on with it.