FAO in Mongolia

Piloting the Climate-Smart approach in the livestock production systems

Erdenetolgoi dairy framers group in Tsog-Undur bagh of Batsumber soum, Tuv aimag (forest-steppe zone)


The livestock sector is vital in Mongolia, both from an economic and a cultural viewpoint. The primary system for the livestock sector is an extensive livestock production system. This system is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including increased temperatures and an increased incidence of extreme weather events. These climatic events have led to severe pasture degradation, exacerbated by ever-increasing livestock numbers. Herders’ livelihoods are currently at risk because of declining productivity and competitiveness of the livestock sector.

While climate change has a negative effect on the livestock sector, the sector also contributes to the issue. Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from the livestock sector are generated through enteric fermentation by ruminants, manure management, feed production and other sources, with a total emission from the sector of 9,840 Gg CO2 equivalent in 2014.

In close cooperation with the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industries (MoFALI), FAO is currently piloting new field based interventions to promote the adoption of Climate Smart Livestock approaches in three different livestock production systems in Mongolia. These systems are located in different ecological zones of the country, and livestock species include sheep, goats and dual-purpose cattle. Key objectives of the project are to make agriculture more productive and sustainable, to increase livelihood resilience and to promote techniques for adaptation, mitigation, and management of climate change impacts.

The project

In close cooperation with the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industries (MoFALI), the project contributes to the achievement of national food security and development goals. It does so through the adoption of CSL approaches in three different livestock production systems. These systems are located in different ecological zones of the country, and livestock species include sheep, goats and dual-purpose cattle.

The implementation of the project started in April 2019, and will be finalized in November 2020 and has a funding of USD 250,000. The project team includes national consultants and one international consultant. A team from the Research Institute of Animal Husbandry (RIAH) is contracted to establish irrigated fodder production plots in three different sites, and to carry out herders’ training on CSL approaches. The first phase of the project includes the establishment of fodder plots, the establishment of deep-water wells, a Solar Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) and trials of selected perennial forages, including oats and alfalfa. The second phase of the project focuses more on capacity building, growing maize for silage and other fodder conservation methodologies.

The outputs of the project include, (i) A favourable legal, economic and institutional environment, (ii) an increased economic return of livestock by using CSL practices, and (iii) Enhanced employment and marketing opportunities for women and men.

Expected Results

The expected results of the project include the demonstration of low-carbon emission irrigation techniques through the use of Solar Photovoltaic cells, reduced nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions through improved manure management and reduced methane (CH4) emissions from enteric fermentation. Better animal husbandry techniques, improved feeding strategies, better dry season feeding, and improved pasture management with reduced and more productive herds will contribute to these reductions. These changes will be estimated through the use of FAO’s GLEAM model (Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model).

A comprehensive overview of the changing landscape in the livestock sector will be produced, including a policy coherence analysis concerning livestock and climate issues. In cooperation with RIAH, a training manual for herders’ capacity building in CSL approaches will be developed.

It is expected that the pilot leads to evidence-based results derived from the adoption of the CSL approach. The use of GLEAM for estimating emissions is a first in Mongolia, and the GLEAM experiences will be shared so that it can be replicated at a bigger scale in the country. The results can be used for broader adoption of the CSL interventions in Mongolia, and a more comprehensive and coherent approach to Climate-Smart policies for the livestock sector.