This from today's London "Times":
Bread basket that is left to grow weeds
They could feed the world or at least a good part of it. Millions of hectares of valuable farmland are lying fallow in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union but tariffs and protectionism are keeping these countries from bringing more food to the table.
Since the collapse of communism, some 23 million hectares of prime cropland, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom, is growing weeds. With the world wheat price up 118 per cent in a year, you might have expected a scramble to plough the black soil of Russia and Ukraine but there are problems. Both countries have erected export barriers to secure domestic food supplies and stem price inflation.
In London this week, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development joined forces with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and a host of agribusiness companies to call for less protection and more investment....
Politically inspired barriers to trade are a blight on the world. The market clamours for more cereals, yet Ukraine, once touted as Europe's bread basket, is missing an opportunity to exploit its advantage. Huge investments in farm machinery and infrastructure are needed to put the former Soviet republic into export mode but there is a catch.
You cannot buy farmland in Ukraine, a law passed in 2001 prohibits its transfer to anyone, foreigner or Ukrainian - a bizarre and misguided attempt to protect the nation's rural heritage is wrecking the country's farming potential....
LEvko thinks if Ukrainian politicians don't "get their finger out" now and start looking to the future, they never will..