Ukraine denies reported huge land deal with China

KIEV, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Ukrainian agricultural firm KSG Agro said on Tuesday it had no plans to sell millions of acres of Ukrainian farm land to a Chinese state firm, contradicting weekend Chinese media reports.

The South China Morning Post reported on Sunday that the Asian firm was to buy 7.4 million acres of Ukrainian farmland. That represents about 10 percent of the former Soviet republic’s overall arable area.

The newspaper said China’s official Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps had signed an agreement with KSG Agro, which would see Ukraine provide 250,000 acres to China. This would eventually rise to 7.4 million acres, it said.

“The news published in the media about a Xinjiang corporation and KSG Agro does not reflect reality. KSG Agro does not intend or have any right to sell land to foreigners, including the Chinese,” the Ukrainian firm said in a statement.

It said that according to a letter of intention, signed on May 31, the two sides are working on a contract for cooperation in a project aimed at installing irrigation systems over an area of 7,400 acres in Ukraine next year.

Ukraine cultivates about 74 million acres of agricultural land, including about 39.5 million used to grow grains. Ukrainian legislation bars the buying or selling of agricultural land under a moratorium.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ukraine may become the world’s second largest exporter of grain this season with shipments of about 30 million tonnes.