Mongolia, a country with a population of 3 million, had more than 43 million livestock in 2010. Livestock-based agriculture has been a backbone of the Mongolian society and economy for years, providing livelihoods for around 35 percent of the country’s population. The livestock-based industry contributed to 10 percent of all export revenues in 2010, only next to mining.
However, the agricultural sector needed modernization – the transition from collective socialism to the market economy in 1990s caused long-lasting changes to agricultural production, food industry, and rural livelihoods, with disruptions in institutional mechanisms and service delivery systems. Underdeveloped agro-industries and poor market access left herders with low and insecure incomes. Around 33 percent of the rural population was living below the national poverty line in 2011. A strategic shift to market-led approaches was necessary to fix existing fragmentation in supply chains.
The World Bank’s Mongolia Livestock and Agricultural Marketing Project (LAMP) aimed to improve rural livelihoods and food security by improving productivity, market access, and diversification in livestock-based production systems.
The project, covering 15 soums (sub-provinces) in Arkhangai, Bayankhongor, Gobi-Altai, Zavkhan, and Khuvsgul provinces, helped create productive partnerships by linking herders to markets and supporting increases in productivity and quality of products. This was done by leveraging private investment, such as by linking local herders – who often found it difficult to market their livestock at remunerative prices – to a meat processing and exporting company or helping them establish partnerships with private veterinary and breeding services. Herders also received trainings on safety standards, horticulture, fodder nutrition, as well as improved breeding practices.
(LAMP conducts training for 110 specialists of vaccine cold chain operations and meat and dairy examination. photo: LAMP Project Implementation Unit)
Matching grants provided through the project served as a catalyst for cooperatives and agribusinesses to leverage their private capital. Microgrants of up to $10,000 were also provided to the most vulnerable households to help them produce vegetables and fruits, thus diversifying their income sources and nutrition.
The project was successful in helping herder households substantially improve their earnings and livelihoods. Internal and external evaluations confirmed these project results achieved from 2014 to 2017:
- The program increased the income of beneficiary households by more than Mongolian Tugrik (MNT) 3.0 million (US$1,204) from livestock production and MNT 150,000 (US $60) from horticulture production – an increase of 80 and 900 percent to household incomes respectively.
- Agricultural products were increasingly marketed through contracts and established companies ranging between 30 percent to 53 percent for different livestock and horticulture products.
- Herders were able to improve both the quantity and quality of their livestock products. For example, a study by the Animal Nucleus Flock Breeding Center (ANFBC) showed that the amount of cashmere production in beneficiary households increased from 260 grams to 400 grams per goat. At the same time, the fineness of the cashmere improved from 16.5 microns to 14.8 microns thanks to the successful work in improving animal genetics. Milk production increased by 33.1 percent and wool by 21.6 percent.
- Besides increased consumption of key food items such as milk and meat, herder households’ diet became more diverse with regular intake of vegetables and introduction of berries and poultry. The LAMP household survey showed 14 percent and 11 percent increases in horse meat and milk consumption, while carrot and sea buckthorn berry consumption increased by 25 percent for the median household. The results for vulnerable households show an increase of 14 percent, 5.9 percent, 16.6 percent, and 10 percent, respectively.
(Project beneficiaries participating in horticulture training. Photo: LAMP Project Implementation Unit)
- The project developed business models to improve animal nutrition and animal breeding services (nucleus flocks), contributing to overall improvement in productivity and quality of livestock. It also helped connect the dots between animal breeding, animal health, and animal nutrition activities within the same soums (rural districts), which informed the national policy and Animal Health Law and Animal Breeding Law enacted at the end of 2017.
- The project also upgraded veterinary divisions, units and laboratories in 5 aimags (provinces) and 15 soums; supported 40 private veterinary units (PVUs); and established cold chains for animal vaccines in 15 soums and 6 buffer zones check points. These investments helped improve animal disease surveillance infrastructure and laboratory services.