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 October to December 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. Parliamentary elections were held in October and the new Cabinet was approved by the Parliament in December 2014. These changes in the GOU have also brought with them changes in the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food. In December 2014, Oleksiy Pavelenko was named as Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food.
The impact of the ongoing situation in Ukraine on AgroInvest activities is discussed throughout this quarterly report.
From October to December 2014, the AgroInvest project team marked the following key activities and accomplishments:
- Prepared analysis and comments to the agricultural sector part of the draft Action Program of the Cabinet of Ministers for 2015 and submitted these documents to the Committee of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Agriculture Policy and Land Issues;
- Provided assistance to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food (MAPF) in developing an Action Plan to implement the Cabinet of Ministers’ Action Program for 2015 and parliamentary Coalition Agreement for 2015-2016;
- Ensured submission and registration in the Verkhovna Rada of a draft law to simplify crop rotation requirements for farmers;
- Facilitated registration of two draft laws aimed at creating conditions for transforming subsidiary household farms into commercial family farms in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine;
- Prepared and disseminated a report, “Recommendations on Improving Ukraine’s Pig Industry Regulations”;
- Prepared a draft manual, “The History of Ukrainian Land Legislation for Judges,” and shared it for review and comments with the National School of Judges and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development-funded Judicial Education for Economic Growth (JEEG) project;
- Printed and distributed guidelines for land-owners on concluding and implementing lease agreements for agricultural land;
- Made a public presentation and distributed a report with an impact analysis of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) signed between the EU and other countries, and recommendations for implementation of the DCFTA between Ukraine and the EU in the agricultural sector;
- Prepared an analytical paper identifying Ukrainian agriculture and food products that have the greatest export potential in the short term and proposing policy interventions to help realize this potential;
- Finalized pre-award determination and commenced implementation of grant-based capacity building programs with five regional agricultural industry associations;
- Commenced participation of project experts in working groups to design a Comprehensive Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development in Ukraine for 2015 – 2020 jointly with the MAPF and the European Commission;
- Launched the official USAID Development Credit Authority (DCA) Loan Portfolio Guarantee (LPG) program between USAID and five AgroInvest partner credit unions. AgroInvest also supported the process of the credit unions paying their required DCA LPG origination fees. As such, the credit unions can now begin placing loans under DCA coverage;
- Conducted a study tour to Poland for representatives of the Ukrainian government and national associations of credit unions, providing an opportunity for knowledge sharing and exposing participants to the Polish credit unions’ successful experience transitioning to the regulatory requirements/framework of the European Union;
- Conducted five agro-technological trainings for loan officers of two partner banks and seven credit unions;
- Accomplished four internal audits of partner credit unions;
- Conducted four practical agro-technological training sessions focused on innovations in production technologies for various vegetable crops. As a part of the training, the project promoted agrilending opportunities available to those employing new technologies;
- Launched production facilities for four agricultural service cooperatives which had received grant support from AgroInvest;
- Prepared and printed two manuals of methodological recommendations on implementing HACCP-based food safety systems for small and medium-sized enterprises’ storing, handling, and processing of raw and processed food products;
- Developed and prepared for publication methodological guidelines on accounting standards for agricultural service cooperatives;
- Organized and successfully conducted the “European and Ukrainian Fruit and Vegetable Markets: Challenges and Prospects” conference at Shuvar Wholesale Market in Lviv. USAID Mission Director Jed Barton and various local and national members of the GOU participated in the conference.
- On December 23, 2014, two draft laws developed by AgroInvest were registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine:
- Draft Law of Ukraine No. 1599 “On Amending Selected Laws of Ukraine with Regard to Stimulating Establishment and Operations of Family Farms”;
- Draft Law of Ukraine No. 1600 “On Amending the Tax Code (with Regard to Stimulating Establishment and Operations of Family Farms).”
These laws deal with the recognition of family farms as legal entities, which allows them to take advantage of tax benefits.