A Glimpse of Livestock Production in Mongolia

July 11, 2016

YIM is an acronym used as an expression in Mongolia.

It stands for You’re In Mongolia. And it’s used when you decide to just accept the situation for what it is and go with the flow.

Mongolian livestock seem to be born with YIM as a natural instinct.

I had the opportunity to visit Mongolia in June through a program at my church. I was sent to visit several Christian organizations and evaluate how we might be able to support their efforts.

The travel was long, the trip busy and short, but while there I was able to see some of the beautiful countryside, visit a nomadic family and see the eclectic herds of the Mongolian steppes.

Crop production in Mongolia is almost non-existent. Less than one percent of the land is cultivable, and this is mostly in the north. The main crops are wheat, barley and potatoes, but the weather is harsh and the growing season very short.

In addition, Mongolians love the land, but hate to be stuck in one place. Their nomadic tradition lends itself well to keeping herds of cattle, horses, yaks, goats, sheep and camels fed on the sparse grasslands.

This is where a heavy dose of YIM comes into play. Mongolian livestock are compact, sturdy and hardy. They know how to survive and must put up with extremes of temperature, altitude, and food and water availability.

Mongolian livestock production has been impacted by challenges and setbacks. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the loss of subsidies and a vast system of external inputs, such as feed, management and veterinary care, caused a huge drop in productivity.

Today, programs to rehabilitate rural wells and watering points, financial protection from droughts and “dzuds” (a summer drought that occurs right before an exceptionally cold winter), efforts to improve food safety and quality, as well as sustainable dairying, have all helped Mongolia take steps toward fulfilling its agricultural potential.

Mark Smither

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