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Country Briefs

  Mongolia

Reference Date: 21-December-2020

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Wheat output in 2020 officially estimated at above‑average level

  2. Above‑average cereal import requirements in 2020/21

  3. Below‑average rains had negative impact on pasture conditions in southern, western and parts of central areas of country

  4. Prices of beef and mutton decreasing from July 2020 onwards

  5. Food insecurity concerns exist in areas where dry weather conditions affected availability of pasture for livestock, rising concerns over a possible “dzud” event

Wheat output in 2020 officially estimated at above‑average level

Harvesting of the 2020 wheat crop, mostly irrigated, was completed at the end of September and production is officially estimated at an above‑average level of 408 000 tonnes. The above‑average output is due to the large area planted, sustained by strong local demand and official programmes promoting wheat production. In particular, the Government decided to scale up the support to wheat producers in 2020 aiming to increase local production and prevent shortages of wheat flour during the COVID‑19 pandemic. The support was provided through the distribution at subsidized prices of agricultural inputs, including equipment, fuel, fertilizers and pesticides. Generally favourable weather conditions and adequate irrigation water supplies boosted yield productivity in the main wheat producing provinces of Selenge and Tuv in Khangai Region and in the provinces of Bulgan, Orkhon and Khuvsgul in the Central Region. Damages to standing crops were reported in the minor wheat producing areas located in parts of Western and Eastern regions and southern parts of Khagai Region due to erratic precipitations during the cropping season. An early snowfall in October hampered harvesting operations, leaving a minor area of about 16 000 hectares (which is about 5 percent of the total area planted with wheat) inaccessible for harvest.

The 2020 output of other crops, including potatoes, barley, oats, millet and buckwheat, is estimated above the previous five‑year average, reflecting high levels of plantings supported by strong local demand and above‑average yields due to favourable weather conditions.

Above‑average cereal import requirements in 2020/21

The country is almost self‑sufficient in wheat and imports large quantities only when local production is not insufficient to cover the domestic needs as in 2015 and 2017 when crops were affected by severe droughts. In the 2020/21 marketing year (October/September), wheat import requirements are forecast at an above‑average level 190 000 tonnes, despite a good domestic production. This reflects official plans to increase wheat imports in order to ensure adequate domestic availabilities and food security amid concerns over the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic. In 2020, imports of rice, which is not produced domestically, are anticipated at a near‑average level of 25 000 tonnes. Similarly, imports of millet, barley, oath and rye in the 2020/21 marketing year are forecast close to the five‑year average.

Below‑average rains in southern, western and parts of central areas of country had negative impact on pasture conditions

Rainfall amounts over southern, western and parts of central areas of the country were below average throughout most of 2020 causing a severe deterioration of pastures and rangeland conditions (see VHI map). Limited pasture availability in these areas prevented livestock to gain fat and strengthen their core muscles, critical to overcome the normally harsh winter/spring months. Drought reduced hay and fodder availabilities, coupled with weak livestock conditions, significantly increase the risks of high mortality rate of animals for the forthcoming cold period. The event when an unusually high number of animals perish during the winter/spring months, which normally follows a summer drought, is locally called “dzud”. According to recent official information, as of 10 December 2020, large areas of Bayankhongor, Uvurkhangai, Omnogovi provinces (locally known as aimags) as well as the northern parts of Dundgovi, eastern part of Govi-Altai and southwestern part of Tuv provinces are at the extreme risk of experiencing a “dzud” event. In addition, large areas Khovd, Zavkhan, Gobi-Altai, Arkhangai, Tuv and Sukhbaatar provinces, as well as southern and northern parts of Omnogovi provinces are at high risk of experiencing a “dzud” event (see Dzud Risk Map).

Prices of beef and mutton meat decreasing from July 2020 onwards

Prices of beef and mutton meat, the country’s main staple food, decreased seasonally from July 2020 onwards, reflecting high market availabilities due to increased livestock sales ahead of the winter. Prices of meat are usually at their lowest levels during OctoberDecember and at their highest levels between May and July.

Food insecurity concerns exist in areas where dry weather conditions affected availability of pasture for livestock, rising concerns over possible “dzud” event

A possible “dzud” event may deteriorate sharply the food security situation of large numbers of people, as about 70 percent of Mongolia’s rural population rely on rangeland‑based livestock herding. As past events have demonstrated, the loss of livestock assets is likely to determine large migration movements into urban areas in search for economic support. Migratory groups often settle in suburban areas of capital, Ulaanbaatar, known as “ger”, where there are virtually no infrastructures and public services, and face food security issues, particularly during the winter periods.

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