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FAO advises on land consolidation legislation in Ukraine

With support from international organizations and projects, Ukraine is now in the final stages of preparing legislation that is expected to open the agricultural land market. As part of this process, FAO has been assisting with the introduction of land consolidation, and with the drafting of a land consolidation law.

Today FAO informed the Ministry for Agrarian Policy and Food and the State Service for Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre (State Geo Cadastre) of its findings on the assessment of the legal framework for land consolidation in the country, and of the draft law on land consolidation prepared by State Geo Cadastre. The report includes a legal assessment of the draft law and FAO’s recommendations as to how the current draft should be revised.

“FAO recommends that the new legislation be fully aligned with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, and with international best practice,” said FAO legal officer Margret Vidar, who worked on the report. “FAO’s assessment is that this is currently not the case with the draft law.”

Land consolidation is seen by the Government of Ukraine as an important instrument to address land fragmentation, which is expected to accelerate after opening of the agricultural land market.

“Evidence from land consolidation feasibility studies conducted by an FAO project in Fastiv and Belozerskiy rayons confirms that an outcome of opening the land market will be increased fragmentation – of both land ownership and land use,” said FAO land tenure officer Morten Hartvigsen. “However, it is clear that during the first years after opening the land market, land consolidation projects will not be able to keep pace with the rate of fragmentation.”

The draft law on land consolidation introduces land consolidation in Ukraine in both a voluntary and majority-based approach, where a majority of participants can decide to implement the project even if a minority are not in agreement. FAO, in contrast, recommends that land consolidation be introduced only through a voluntary approach, at least to begin with.

“Should Ukraine decide to adopt the law with provisions for majority-based land consolidation,” Vidar said, “FAO will strongly recommend that proper safeguards be established directly within the law to ensure that legitimate tenure rights are respected and protected. We recommended that the draft law be reformulated in line with international best practice for majority-based land consolidation, with safeguards protecting land owners and users who may not want to participate in the project.”

Another important consideration is transparency in the decision-making process. FAO recommends that the draft law include provisions to regulate establishment and functioning of decision-making bodies in land consolidation projects. To date, the draft does not contain such provisions.

Finally, FAO recommends that land consolidation be undertaken as part of broader community-development planning.

“As it stands now,” said Hartvigsen, “the draft law focuses only on rearranging land ownership and land use. To have the best chance of success, land consolidation should be accompanied by preparation of community development plans – together with the local population and government. It should be an inclusive process where everyone has a say.”

17 November 2017, Kyiv, Ukraine

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