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Investors out to make dough from Europe’s breadbasket

Blessed with some of the continent’s most fertile land, Ukraine is of enormous interest to agribusiness. A handful of local and international firms think they have spotted an opportunity. The private sector will be vital to the country fulfilling its potential. Valentina Zarya reports.

"IT’S REALLY VERY simple," Vladyslav Lugovskiy explains over dinner in Stary Mlyn, a restaurant museum in the small city of Ternopil, Ukraine. "You take a seed, you put it in the ground, you give it some sun and some water and you hope it will grow."

Seated in a hand-carved chair and surrounded by pre-Soviet peasant décor, it is easy to forget that it is 2011 and that Lugovskiy is the COO of Mriya Agro Holding, one of the largest agricultural holding corporations in western Ukraine. Although the company has more than 240,000 hectares of Ukrainian land under management, you would never be able to tell by looking at Lugovskiy, who seems no different to the average Ukrainian man – especially when it comes to the rate at which he downs shots of Vishnevka, the dangerously delicious Ukrainian cherry liqueur.

Mriya started out as a family owned farm but it seems unlikely that the company still operates according to the homespun philosophy expounded by Lugovskiy. And indeed he admits that it does get a bit more complicated.

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