Nomadic pastoralism is the backbone of food security in Mongolia. More than 210,000 rural households (1/3 of the total population) are keeping around 40 million livestock comprising sheep, goats, cattle, yak, horses and camels. Degradation of Mongolian rangeland is increasing and affects 70% of the territory. Overgrazing and the lack of a regulatory framework are the main causes of rangeland degradation. Since 2006, the Green Gold Project facilitated collective actions among nomadic herders organizing pasture user groups to implement measures preventing rangeland degradation. Rotational grazing, resting practices, hay making and feeding during the winter are among the introduced measures. The results are an increased productivity and an adaptation of the herd size to the carrying capacity of the rangelands. In 2013, a total of 3.4 million hectares of degraded rangeland have been rehabilitated through 700 pasture user groups representing more than 40,000 households.
Ministry of Industry and Agriculture - MongoliaLead applicant
The Ministry of Industry and Agriculture of Mongolia is responsible for developing legal and policy framework for Mongolia’s industrial and agricultural sectors. It develops policies that support value-chain development, sustainable and efficient use of resources to contribute to economic growth, industrial and agricultural development and food-security for the population. The ministry’s objectives are to encourage intensified farming, quality organization of animal identification, enhance animal health conditions and prevention of diseases, establishment of water points in rural areas and to improve good pastureland management. In the food sector, the ministry prioritize to support domestic production, increase the volume of industrial processed food products and to slow down the quantity and variety of import goods. Its key task is to ensure food safety and to meet the domestic demand of potatoes and vegetables production.
Aimag Federation of Pasture Users' Groups - MongoliaInitiative partner
Promote sustainable pasture management and economic development at the herders' level.
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Mongolia - MongoliaInitiative partner
Assisting the Government of Mongolia with development programmes on agriculture, vocational education and governance
Sustainable rangeland management
Collective actions through organised pasture user groups in Mongolia are a sustainable way to protect rangeland from desertification and to guarantee food security for the next herder generation
Mongolia has millions of hectares of grasslands which have been managed sustainably during thousands of years by nomadic herders. External influences such as political changes and climate change are putting the system at risk. The governments is asked to provide rapid solution in order to stop the grassland degradation. Increased degradation could be irreversible and end into desertification. As nomadic herding in Mongolia is a backbone for the food security, the latter is at risk.
The conflicts on rangeland among herders have been reduced thanks to the introduction of the pasture plans. Herders organisations are increasingly recognized by local Governments which are starting to support them with local development funds. Better management of the herd, result in increased income by the herders. Adoption of resting periods is the guarantee for rangeland to recover and to increase the grazing capacity.
Tens of thousands of herders’ households live in the Western part of Mongolia, which is considered to be the region that is the most affected by natural disasters and is also the poorest one. These herders are especially exposed to natural risks and do not have all the capacities needed to face all the challenges. Support in improved herd management and in household economy is especially needed.
The initiative is coordinated by a lean project coordination unit. This unit is composed by 5 Mongolian experts assisted by an international advisor. In each of the 7 aimag, the federations have 3-4 staff which are highly qualified professionals in animal husbandry, livestock and pasture management. In each soum the Association of Pasture User Groups are also collaborating with highly motivated staff.
The main challenge of the Green Gold project is the remoteness of the area and the large distances. Nomadic herders are mobile and it is not easy to reach them. Meetings and visits have to be well prepared and communication and transport are costly. The economic benefits of the collective actions have to be immediate otherwise the herders do not pay sufficient attention to it and their commitment is reduced. A lack of careful involvement of the local authorities can put the entire initiative at risk.
The introduction of the pasture plans, the adoption of rest periods, the clear deadlines for pasture use and the reduction of the herd’ size are all able to reduce the grazing pressure. This can be pivotal for the restoration and survival of certain grass species. Preventing the degradation of the grassland and finally avoid desertification is among the big challenges of this initiative.
Several cooperatives were born out form the pasture user groups. While the pasture user groups are officially recognised associations (NGO’s in Mongolia), the cooperatives are business entities capable to generate benefits. The presence of the well organised pasture user groups within the herders are more and more recognised by the local governments especially to identify investments needs for the local development.
Initiatives: pasture user groups, pasture land plans, collective hay making, mapping of the pasture land, teaching on how to measure grassland degradation, collective marketing of livestock products via cooperatives, citizens councils to participate in the local development fund discussions.