Ukraine is well-positioned to expand economic opportunities and improve rural livelihoods by investing in agriculture. With its vast, fertile lands and orientation toward agricultural exports, Ukraine’s agricultural production potential is enormous. Despite these advantages, Ukraine has not fully nurtured the agricultural sector as an engine of rural development.
Fragmentation of the agricultural sector is a key limiting factor. Ukraine has some of the world’s largest farms (its largest agro-holdings control an estimated 4.5 million hectares of cultivated land) — but more than half of Ukraine’s gross agricultural product, and the majority of labor-intensive produce, is generated by more than 4 million smallholders.
To support equitable gains in the agricultural sector, USAID’s Agriculture and Rural Development Support Program (ARDS) contributes to broad-based development in Ukraine’s rural areas. ARDS helps national-level stakeholders to formulate policies and programs that promote more transparent and effective land governance, and prepare to open up the agricultural land market. In addition, ARDS expands state support for smallholder farmers, incentivizes the development of cooperatives and other producer groups, and promotes on- and off-farm employment in rural areas.
To improve quality of life in rural areas, ARDS strengthens partnerships among businesses, local governments, and donors to spur investments in infrastructure, including irrigation and retail or wholesale markets. As part of this, small- and medium-sized enterprises involved in producing or processing fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat are being trained on modern technologies and practices — helping them increase their competitiveness in domestic and international markets.
Ultimately, ARDS leverages the capabilities and talents of Ukraine’s government, businesses, and community leaders to lead change in agricultural and food sectors.