KIEV, UKRAINE — Over 200 senior representatives from the Ukrainian grain industry, international financial institutions and the Ukrainian authorities participated in the Fifth Ukrainian Grain Congress (UGC) in Kiev, Ukraine on Nov. 25. The congress, jointly supported since 2011 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), discusses key priorities for the sector, which is growing but has not reached its full potential. 

This year’s UGC comes at a crucial moment of political and economic transformation in Ukraine, which presents an opportunity for much-needed comprehensive reforms of the sector. The most pressing reforms were discussed in the opening roundtable, “Effective dialogue between agribusiness and authorities.”

Participants stressed the importance of maintaining a productive relationship and open dialogue between the public and private sectors to facilitate investment. Agribusiness companies operating in Ukraine, particularly in the grain sector, have continued to generate revenue, producing and exporting in a difficult economic environment.

At the congress, representatives of the private sector expressed their commitment to working with the government to address constraints that limit their ability to operate efficiently and to stimulate the investment needed to ensure growth. A simpler regulatory framework, stable policy environment and higher-quality agricultural education were among the priorities named as essential for unleashing the investment potential of the sector.

“This morning’s roundtable on effective public-private dialogue – organized by the EBRD, FAO, the Ministry of Agricultural Policy and Food, and the Ukrainian Grain Association – was an excellent opportunity to look at our main achievements since the last congress. FAO is pleased to see how the grain industry and the ministry assumed responsibility for the dialogue we initiated in 2011. The Ukraine Grain Working Group has proven to be an effective platform for discussing grain sector issues,” said Dmitry Prikhodko, FAO economist.

“Since the last congress, we have also made progress in the expansion of grain export opportunities in Asia and the E.U. The EBRD and FAO will continue to engage with companies and the government to support investments and dialogue in the agribusiness sector, which is crucial for the Ukrainian economy.”

Leading agribusiness players, both foreign and domestic, have recently confirmed their readiness to invest as much as €2.5 billion in Ukraine’s agribusiness over the next three years. “These companies are committed to working with the Ukrainian government in order to stimulate the investments needed in this difficult period,” said Wojtek Boniaszczuk, EBRD senior agribusiness banker. The EBRD has echoed this trend by committing over €283 million to 135 new agribusiness projects in the country since the beginning of 2014.

The UGC began on Nov. 24 with a visit to Nibulon, Ukraine’s leading grain trader, where the group toured the firm’s facilities and held a roundtable session to discuss river-transport logistics for grain. Today’s session officially opened the congress, which will continue tomorrow with a review of the macroeconomic situation in Ukraine and its implications for business. Also high on the congress agenda for Nov. 26 will be the global grain trade and Ukraine’s role in that market, as well as infrastructure and logistics, and the country’s prospects for bioenergy development.

In 2013 alone, Ukraine harvested approximately 63 million tonnes of grain, which places the country firmly among the strongest agricultural producers in the world. This sector is a driving force for the domestic economy and has become even more significant in Ukraine’s current economic setting.

This is the second of three rounds of the Fifth Ukrainian Grain Congress; the first was held in Paris in October 2014 and the final round will take place in the United States in spring 2015.