The purpose of AgroInvest is to provide technical assistance to accelerate and broaden economic recovery in Ukraine and increase the country’s contribution to global food security efforts. AgroInvest is achieving this objective by supporting a stable, market-oriented agricultural policy environment, stimulating access to financial services for small and medium producers (SMPs), and facilitating a more effective market infrastructure for SMPs.
The scope of work identifies three main components, refined into six tasks, as follows:
- Component 1: Support a Stable, Market-Oriented Policy Environment
Task 1-a: Accelerate Market-Oriented Reforms
Task 1-b: Strengthen Industry Associations
Task 1-c: Provide Public Education for Land Rights
- Component 2: Stimulate Access to Finance
Task 2-a: Provide Sustainable Access to Financial Services for SMPs
- Component 3: Facilitate Market Infrastructure for Small and Medium Producers
Task 3-a: Producer Organization Development
Task 3-b: Develop Wholesale Markets and Other Market Infrastructure
AgroInvest is a five-year project with an estimated completion date of January 24, 2016. The scope of this Project encompasses the following U.S. Foreign Assistance Framework Program Areas: 4.2 Trade and Investment, 4.5 Agriculture, 4.6 Private Sector Competitiveness, and 4.7 Economic Opportunity.
From July to September 2014, the political and social situation in Ukraine continued to stabilize. However, the country is still going through a period of economic, political, and social distress that had consequences for AgroInvest’s technical and administrative activities. A large part of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts experienced fighting between armed groups, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea remained a self-declared independent territory. In August, the President announced early parliamentary elections to be held at the end of October 2014.
On the positive side, Ukraine ratified the Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) and agreed on a military ceasefire in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in September 2014. The impact of the ongoing situation in Ukraine on project activities is discussed throughout this quarterly report.
From July to September 2014, the AgroInvest project team marked the following key activities and accomplishments:
- Finalized proposals on reforming the activities of the State Agricultural Inspection Agency and distributed them to partner industry associations for discussion and further submission to the government;
- Prepared detailed Practical Recommendations for land-owners based on main findings of the Study of Agriculture Land Lease Agreements;
- Completed an impact analysis of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) signed between the EU and other countries, and prepared recommendations for implementation of the DCFTA between Ukraine and the EU in the agricultural sector;
- Prepared an assessment of the performance of Ukraine’s Grain Warehouse Receipt System and proposed recommendations on improving its operation;
- Project experts joined the agriculture and agribusiness working group under the Reanimation Reform Package initiative (RRP) – a well-established group of Ukrainian civil society organizations that have strong support in the Verkhovna Rada and focus, in part, on agriculture reform issues;
- Held a competition and selected five regional agricultural industry associations to implement capacity building programs;
- Printed and disseminated a manual prepared by the All-Ukrainian Association of Village Mayors, entitled “Practical Advice for Village Mayors for the Improvement of Sustainable Rural Development and Agricultural Production”;
- Continued the operation of the Land Rights Resource Center and Web-Portal;
- Facilitated preparation and assisted the Land Union of Ukraine with distribution of well-structured policy proposals to prevent abuse of power and corruption in land relations, entitled “Ten Steps to Combat Corruption – Recommendations for Government Actions”;
- Expanded the Program of Legal Land Rights to Zakarpatya, a new oblast, and continued the Program in Chernivtsi, Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Poltava, and Ternopil oblasts, with an emphasis on training village mayors and village-level land managers;
- Conducted risk assessments for five credit unions – candidates for the loan portfolio guarantee program with the USAID Development Credit Authority (DCA) – and facilitated the signing of the DCA guarantee agreements between USAID and the five credit unions;
- Finalized preparation of a study tour to Poland for representatives of the Ukrainian government and national association of credit unions, providing an opportunity for knowledge sharing and allowing participants to gain exposure to Polish credit unions’ successful experience harmonizing legislation with EU standards;
- Conducted two practical agro-technological training sessions focused on innovations in production technologies for cucumbers and other vegetables. As part of the training, the project promoted agrilending opportunities available to those employing new technologies;
- Kickstarted operations at the production facilities of four agriculture cooperatives that are AgroInvest grantees;
- Completed the first round of training seminars on HACCP-based food safety standards for agricultural produce;
- Developed and sent to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food (MAPF) two draft laws of Ukraine intended to regulate establishment and operations of family farms by amending a farming law and a tax code law;
- In partnership with experts and research institutions, developed new guidelines on bookkeeping in agriculture service cooperatives.