KIEV, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The law on the free circulation of agricultural land, approved by the Ukrainian parliament on March 31 last year, came into force in Ukraine on Thursday.
The farmland market opens up as part of the land reform carried out by the Ukrainian government starting from July 1.
Until 2024, only individuals with Ukrainian citizenship can buy farmland. At the same time, no more than 100 hectares should be concentrated in one hand.
From Jan. 1, 2024, Ukrainian legal entities with a concentration of less than 10,000 hectares will also be able to acquire land. State and municipal farmland will not be sold.
The current land law prohibits the purchase of land by foreigners. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky previously said that the issue of farmland sale to foreigners could be resolved only at a national referendum.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal called the lifting of the moratorium on the sale of farmland one of the most important and anticipated reforms in the history of the country.
Speaking at a government meeting on Wednesday, Shmyhal said that free trade in land would contribute to the development of Ukraine and at the same time help protect farmers, since they would be given a preemptive right to purchase leased land plots.
Earlier, Shmyhal said that the lifting of the farmland sale ban in Ukraine would drive the land price to increase at least twofold over the next 3-5 years.
Currently, there are about 7 million Ukrainians who own land and couldn't legally sell in the past 20 years, which caused the farmland prices to go below their actual value, he said.
A moratorium on the sale of land has been in effect in Ukraine since 2001. Experts from Ukraine's largest creditor, the IMF, said the ban impeded the development of the Ukrainian agricultural industry.
However, their opponents argued that due to the peculiarities of the legislation, the free purchase and sale of farmland would be beneficial only to large landowners.
Ukraine is one of the world's largest agricultural producers, with a total area of farmland at about 42.8 million hectares. Approximately 75 percent of the farmland is privately owned.
The Ukrainian Parliament voted to lift a ban on the sale of farmland on March 31, 2020, after a long-lasting debate with opponents, who fear the law might be abused by local and foreign oligarchs to snap up land. Enditem