Ukraine was to become an economically revitalized creature after the break from communism in 1991. With a third of the world’s black soil, the most fertile of soils, many expected (and some feared) that it would realize its agricultural potential under free market principles. Independent experts held that Ukraine had the potential to produce over 100 million tons of grain annually. Instead, Ukraines agricultural production declined to half of its pre-independence level and a quarter its value in real terms; grain production faired similarly, declining to near record lows of 23.8 million tons in 2000. By 1998, the country became a net importer of food, turning the breadbasket of Europe into a basket in need of bread.
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