Investment in Ukraine Land Makes Sense

May 6th, 2010 9:34 pm

Farmland in Ukraine is one of the world’s most fertile and has the potential to become one of the most productive. New technology and better farming techniques are being introduced with excellent results. The ever-increasing yields from land mean that Ukraine is now among global leaders in grain sales. In 2009, Ukraine became the market leader in Spain, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Saudi, and also entered the Far Eastern markets of Japan and Korea for the first time.

Ukraine farmland has several advantages in a very competitive industry. Along with more effective farming methods, Ukraine has reduced freight prices. In addition, the devaluation of the Hryvnia currency has increased profitability.

Agricultural land in Ukraine is currently under-exploited. However, as the pressure for more food rises globally, more land in Ukraine is being farmed. Just a decade ago one million hectares were under crops. In 2009, Ukraine farmed 4.2 million hectares, a massive increase of 420%. Likewise, farms are getting bigger – the average farm size grew from just 28 hectares to 101 between 1999 and 2009. Reflecting this growth in agriculture are the production volumes from Ukraine land. These saw a year-on-year increase of 5% in January this year.

The rich and fertile soil found throughout Ukraine produces grains (corn, barley and wheat) and sunflower. Together with Argentina and Russia, Ukraine forms part of the so-called Sunflower Triangle. The increased quality of Ukraine sunflower crops plus a consistent export level of an average of 1.76 million tonnes over the last three years ensure that Ukraine is a leader in the sunflower industry.

But all this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ukraine has huge potential in agriculture, a potential that will gradually be realised over the next ten years. The recent USDA ‘Agricultural Projections to 2019’ report finds that Ukraine along with Russia and Kazakhstan will become major agricultural players by 2020.

The report says that traditional exporters such as Australia, the EU and US will “remain important in global trade in the coming decade. But countries that are making significant investments in their agricultural sectors and increasingly pursuing policies to encourage agricultural production, including Ukraine and Kazakhstan, are expected to have an increasing presence in export markets for basic agricultural commodities”.

The report highlights corn exports from the Former Soviet Union, which are predicted to rise to 8.4 million tonnes by 2019. The bulk of these exports will come from Ukraine where “favourable resource endowments, wider use of hybrid seed, and greater investment in agriculture, stimulate corn production”.

Barley is also hugely important crop for Ukraine, which together with Russia, has an almost 50% share of the world’s barley trade. According to USDA, “Ukraine became the world’s largest barley exporter in 2009 and is projected to remain so throughout the projection period (2019)”. With farming productivity increasing annually, the future for investment in Ukraine land is very bright.

Italy Real Estate – Why Investors Are Flocking to Lake Iseo

March 16th, 2010 2:54 am

The better-known Lakes Como, Maggiore, Garda and Orta draw the international jetset. But growing numbers of property hunters who come to Northern Italy’s Lakes region have instead discovered the delights of the peaceful banks of Lake Iseo nearby, a name that barely registers outside Italy but one that is no less enchanting than Italy’s better known waters.

Additionally, a quartet of international airports are within a 55-mile radius – one in Brescia, one in Bergamo and two in Milan. One clear signal to the mounting attraction of this secret gem is evident in the growing number of cars with number plates from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany on Iseo’s charming lanes and roads in high season.

Stefania Russo of Italian property finders The Property Organiser said: “We’re telling our clients who are considering buying in bigger lakes such as Como and Maggiore to certainly consider Iseo. It’s an area that is relatively unknown, unspoilt by huge numbers of tourists and within good vicinity of a clutch of airports as well as neighbouring Switzerland. We believe the real estate market here will rise in the coming years.”

To buttress the point, property prices throughout Northern Italy’s lakes dropped by more than 4% – plunging by nearly 9% in some parts of Lake Maggiore, a study last year by a leading property in Italy conglomerate revealed. But Iseo was the best-performing lake, with a fall of under 2%. The lake, also called Sebino, is between Lakes Garda and Como and a few miles from Brescia and Bergamo. Milan is 80km away, or one hour by rail and 1hr 30mins driving.

It is Italy’s seventh biggest lake, some 24km by 5km, runs north to south and is overlooked by mountains. It is a relaxing spot for swimmers, divers, sailors, windsurfers, water-skiers and anglers. Iseo’s waters enclose the scenic Monte Isola, with around 2,000 inhabitants. The island, one of the lake’s chief attractions is linked to the shore by short ferry hops. Almost devoid of motor transport, the isle has an oasis-like calm and is perfect to be explored on foot or bicycle. The island is also known net-making industry, which started with fishing nets but later expanded to include hammocks and tennis and volleyball nets.

Returning to the lake’s shores, the most picturesque towns are on the eastern side, such as Iseo, Marone and Sulzano. Iseo has the greatest number of attractions, including an unfinished 900-year old church. The surrounding countryside is dotted with charming medieval buildings that can be found by walking, cycling or, even more leisurely, by horseriding. And in winter, Montecampione attracts hordes of amateur skiers. Consider, however, that with the Alps close by, a number of trekking and riding paths involve steep inclines.