Markets, land ownership and staff management in Eastern Europe

Andriy Bahriy, one of the founders, and now general director of the arable and horticulture company Obriy Ltd talks about land ownership in Ukraine, staff management and more

How big is the farm and what do you grow?

The total farm size is  595 hectares - 475ha of combinable crops along with 120ha of fruit.

How do you see the role of the state in agriculture?

The state should determine annually when, where and which agricultural sector needs more investment. For example, this year the price for apples on the internal market has been good, so growers don't need any subsidies. But markets and conditions can change and maybe next year it will be the apple growers who need some form of financial support. Support could also be based on climate zones across the country. Regions with a harsher farming climate could get more support to ensure production continues.

Does the state have a role to play in developing markets at home and abroad?

I think the state could be active in helping develop existing markets and finding new ones for Ukrainian produce. Our growers don't produce enough apples to meet internal consumption so there is scope to expand the sector. We should also look to exports. Ukrainian horticulture is developing intensively just as the Polish sector did 20 years ago. We have many new plantings, that will bear fruit soon and we need to look to exports for the produce. If we don’t establish agreements and secure sales the future may be more difficult.

Land ownership in the Ukraine is undergoing reform with a potential move by the state to allow private owners to sell land. Do you need a land market?

It has been a paradoxical national phenomenon - to be the owner of the land and not be able to sell it. As for me - the land market should have been opened in the Ukraine much earlier. The land market is definitely needed to stimulate investment in our enterprises and production.

How do you think land prices will be set?

Price will be determined by the market. I’m sure that the lion's share of our landowners will not want to sell land because it is an asset that creates stable revenue. I believe that land sales will not become a mass phenomenon. Most people overestimate land value. In neighboring Poland or Romania, the cost of 1ha varies from €1000 to €5000.

Given that there could be people buying farmland for the first time what is your advice for beginners?

It is a good industry and I am full of praise for people who want to start farming. The key is to keep learning. You need to learn from your own mistakes and make use of everyone else's experience. Work hard, explore opportunities and ask plenty of questions. You must also read a lot of professional literature to keep up with developments.

How do you motivate  and develop your own employees  if you notice their potential?

I always provide opportunities for those people, who aspire to expand their knowledge of the industry and move up through the company. The main thing is to pay attention to these people as soon as you identify their potential and help them to increase their level of responsibility.

What do you appreciate in people, especially in your workforce?

The biggest value іs honesty. Honesty in everything - in relations and in work. Professional integrity may be acquired but personal decency and honesty cannot. When a person is decent and honest in their work, they will become a real professional.

What other advice could you give to workers?

Don’t put off key decisions because of stress. People often hesitate when there is a big decision to be made. But this only maintains the stress. You just need to make a decision and work to make it the right one.

Andriy Bahriy, one of the founders, and now general director, of the arable and horticulture company Obriy Ltd in the Vinnytsia region
Andriy Bahriy, one of the founders, and now general director, of the arable and horticulture company Obriy Ltd in the Vinnytsia region
OBRIY LTD grows 475ha of combinable crops along with 120ha of fruit
OBRIY LTD grows 475ha of combinable crops along with 120ha of fruit