FAO in Mongolia

Success stories

Mongolia - Impact of Early Warning Early Action: Protecting the livelihood

SECiM C2 focused on piloting a model for smallholder dairy processors for the collection of milk beyond 250km radius of Ulaanbaatar. This required the formation of organized herder groups to supply small scale dairy processing plants, known as Ger Kitchens. These Ger Kitchens (GKs) were established with substantial project investment and started to produce value-added dairy products such as curds and butter at a uniform standard. SECiM’s efforts for the development of this model were not only concentrated on building the capacity of GKs to produce quality dairy products, but also capacity building at an institutional level for marketing organizations whose mission it is to collect dairy products.

There are many benefits in the commercialization of animals raised for meat as early as possible, but is requires a tripartite partnership between herders, and the public and private sectors. For example, those herders who consented have their young animals undergo the vasectomy procedure, reared these same animals on pastures which had been endorsed by local government, and meat processing plants agreed to buy animals when they reached the proper weight.

Since November 2017, using the FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA), FAO Mongolia has been implementing a pilot roject on early actions to protect key livelihood assets, in particular, to ensure the survival of pregnant animals, young stock and newborns of 504 vulnerable herder households in 5 soums of 5 aimags, where potential risks of the dzud were projected due to the adverse effects of past summer drought and pasture carrying capacity, which were exceeded many times.

The project Increasing the supply of dairy products to urban centres in Mongolia by reducing post-harvest losses and restocking with total fund of 1.96 USD million was funded by the Governments of Mongolia and Japan, under the Kennedy Round facility, and executed by the FAO under its global Special Programme for Food Security and implemented during 2005-2007 to rebuild the dairy industry in Mongolia.

In June 2008, the Government and the private sector, though the Mongolian Meat Association (MMA), requested technical assistance and limited inputs from FAO to fill the meat technology and training gaps by establishing a national Meat Training and Service Centre (MTSC) at the Food Technology College (FTC) in Ulaanbaatar. Assistance was also requested to set up the four Soum-level meat enterprises. FAO responded to the request by providing assistance under the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme for 387 000 USD. The programme was implemented in two phases (June 2008 to 30 December 2009 and January to June 2010) because of delays caused by the long and harsh winters in Mongolia.

When a country makes the dramatic shift from a state-run economy to one driven by market forces, the transformation is often jarring. Jobs can disappear, populations become displaced and entire industries collapse.

During the 1990s, Mongolia underwent such a shift. Many of the changes were painful, and one industry that was nearly destroyed was the dairy industry. That spelled disaster for two reasons. First, Mongolia is a nation of herders and farmers; 42 percent of its people earn their living in this manner, and many of the country’s 2.6 million population depend upon milk and dairy production for their livelihoods. “Milk is sacred in Mongolia,’’ says Dendev Terbishdagva, Minister of Food and Agriculture. Second, lack of dairy products, and milk in particular, contributed to under-nutrition among 25 percent of the country’s children, and a drop in nutrition among a growing population of vulnerable, low-income people.

Few people have done more to turn Mongolia green, and give people jobs in the process, than Tsendsuren Deleg. Mongolia is known for its broad expanse of steppes, where herdsmen roam in a struggle for survival. Fifty seven years ago, Tsendsuren Deleg was born to one such herdsman. She knows how hard life can be on the Great Plains, where the harsh dry climate can make finding food, especially fruits and vegetables, a challenge.

Tsendsuren’s father was a popular man in his community, and so he was selected to represent them in parliament. As a representative he had the means to provide his daughter with an education. Tsendsuren chose to attend the Agricultural University and study forest engineering because, she says, “I wanted to be close to nature. I feel peaceful and serene when I am in the forest.’’ Only about 10 percent of Mongolia, however, was forested.

“What shall we do with these various seeds? Do they think we can grow all these vegetable varieties here, when the names of some are even unfamiliar to us? Total absurd! I think, these vegetables only grow in Khangai (a mountain range in Mongolia) and other countries” exclaimed a 37 year old man, living in Erdenedalai soum of Dundgobi aimag, the region with lowest agricultural production, who is a far relative of Erdmaa, a 41 year old single mother from Bayanovoo soum of Bayankhongor aimag, where this story is all about.