The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry reported that it counted 66.2 million livestock across Mongolia in 2017. The latest data suggest Mongolia has 3.9 million horses, 4.3 million cattle, 434,000 camels, 30.1 million sheep and 27.3 million goats. The livestock population has been constantly increasing in Mongolia since 2012 by two or three percent annually. Unfortunately, as largest portions of the country’s territory experienced extreme cold weather and dzud caused by prolonged drought and wildfires in the summer across Mongolia, many herders throughout the country lost a substantial number of livestock. After heavy losses due to extreme winter conditions, herders are beginning to realize they need to shift focus away from quantity based expansion to a quality based one. The government started adopting policies to promote livestock development around this shift in focus.
Since the mid 2000s until the beginning of 2010s, past governments have paid a great deal of attention to the mining sector, which was expected to have a significant impact on the nation’s economic growth, hence neglecting the country’s livestock development strategy. But the governments of last three years began to understand the importance of developing the nation’s livestock sector, and Parliament and Cabinet collaborated on making amendments to several laws regarding livestock and agricultural development, and adopted a new law on livestock genetic resources. Moving forward, the legislature and government will be working together to enhance the legal and regulatory environment for developing animal husbandry to support the country’s economic growth and export volume.
Official of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Ts.Tsetsegdari stated that if the government successfully implements new and amended laws for livestock development, meat exports will be raised, Mongolian livestock health will be improved, income of herders will increase, and other positive effects on livestock development can be achieved in the near future. Ts.Tsetsegdari noted that as a result of the government’s efforts to promote meat exports, Mongolia exported 29,200 tons of meat (worth approximately 150 billion MNT) in 2017, and stressed that meat exports last year was three times larger than the volume of 2016. The 2017 meat exports is also a sevenfold increase compared to five years ago.
Under the government’s efforts to boost meat exports, the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry paid visits to Russia and China to improve mutual collaboration for trade of meat and meat products. During the visits, the sides signed some cooperation documents to consolidate their efforts. As results of better collaboration activities between the government of Mongolia and the two countries, China agreed to let 13 Mongolian meat exporting companies to enter their market, and Russia also agreed to buy Mongolian sheep and goat meats from livestock disease-free zones along the Mongolian and Russian border, and three Mongolian companies were certified to export meat to Russia.
As livestock diseases are the greatest obstacle to developing Mongolian meat exports, the government is keen on improving the legal and regulatory environment on livestock health. For instance, several provisions for preventing risks and the spread of animal infectious diseases, clarifying responsibilities of state veterinary organizations and herders, and adopting a new livestock health system which meets international standards were made in a package of laws adopted at the end of Parliament’s fall session. The laws will enter into force on June 1.
Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry B.Batzorig noted that a project to renovate Biocombinat, a state-owned pharmaceutical and vaccination factory, is scheduled to be implemented with a soft loan from the Hungarian government. When the factory begins operation, it will supply a large percent of Mongolian livestock vaccination demand in accordance with the new laws enter into force.
Livestock specialists and experienced government officials in the livestock sector determined that to enhance management of pastures across the country and increase the nation’s meat exports, a significant focus on increasing the number of cattle and reducing goat and sheep population is necessary.
The government also supports international organizations promoting Mongolian meat exports, and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is implementing several projects to increase meat exports from Mongolia to China.
Ulaanbaatar Program Coordinator of TIKA Veysel Ciftci pointed out that TIKA’s projects for enhancing Mongolian meat exports are focusing on adopting technology and standards to prepare halal (permissible food in traditional Islamic law) meat in Mongolia; training butchers to perform halal way of slaughtering an animal; establishing a halal meat processing plant to produce meat that will be exported to China’s Xinjiang and Uyghur Autonomous Regions from Mongolia’s Govi-Altai Province; and growing fodder to improve meat quality in several areas in Mongolia.
TIKA organized several training programs in cooperation with the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry and the Mongolian Meat Association to provide butchers with halal technology and method of preparing export meat. More than 60 people attended the training and over 30 butchers acquired halal meat processing technology from the training programs. Ciftci noted that as Govi-Altai Province is the closest destination to transport goods from Mongolia to Xinjiang, TIKA established a small halal meat processing plant in Chandmani soum of Govi-Altai Province, which has the capacity to slaughter 250 sheep or goats and 50 cattle a day and meat is expected to be exported to Xinjiang from the plant this year.
As livestock that survived prolonged harsh winter conditions cannot provide adequate meat for exports, feeding livestock for meat exports during winter and spring is crucial to maintaining the regular volume of exports, which is why TIKA is implementing a project to grow fodder in some soums of Bulgan, Darkhan-Uul, Selenge and Tuv provinces and Nalaikh District.
Director of the Mongolian Meat Association B.Ochirbat stated that Mongolians don’t care enough about how their meat is prepared or slaughtered, but meat prepared without proper processing standards has negative impacts on human health. He concluded that to adopt meat processing technology that meet international standards, state organizations were given sufficient funding for food expenditures from the state budget to purchase meat produced by local meat processing plants.