Ukraine has 32.2 million hectares of arable land, out of this 27 million hectares are cultivated. Ukraine has one of the world’s richest black soils, the so called chernozem, in fact around of 25 percent of the global black soil assets is located in Ukraine.
Chernozem is characterized by a high rate of humus, up to 15% compared to 4% in average soils, and high percentages of phosphoric acids, phosphorus and ammonia (nitrogen). Chernozem is therefore very fertile and produces high agricultural yields. However, during the 70 years of soviet rule this great resource was not fully utilized and the development of the agricultural sector slumped behind the west. Despite the soviet mismanagement Ukraine has maintained a strong agricultural position. Still, Ukrainian farmers have limited resources and use mostly dated equipment, second rate seeding materials, and use less fertilizers compared to a western farmer.
The break-up of the Soviet Union led to a sharp reduction of agricultural output, mainly due to decreasing domestic demand and poor government policies. Grain output during 1990 – 1999 is estimated to have dropped by 52 percent. In 2000 the total agricultural output began to grow, however the mix of crops was at that point of time very different compared to the ones harvested during Soviet times. Sunflower, rape seeds and soy had become more attractive cultures to grow due to higher prices and yields. Yet, these “new” crops demand investments into know-how and machinery.