Project launches to make Mongolian lamb meat a global brand

Economy | Agriculture
2020-11-06 15:57:00

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. A brand for lamb meat is being introduced for the first time in Mongolia. The launch for the ‘Mongolian Lamb’ project took place at Saruul Market in Ulaanbaatar city on November 1. The project is being launched within the framework of the ‘Wealthy Herder’ programme by ‘Chineeleg Malchin Boijuulakh Tuv’ NGO in partnership with ‘Mon Ecolamb’ LLC. We asked a few questions about the project from Head of Chineeleg Malchin Boijuulakh Tuv NGO L.Odser.

-The main goal of the project was initially thought to be a meat processing of small livestock in compliance with foreign market requirements and its export. However, it seems that the project means much more than that. Could you tell us more about the project?

-Yes, the project’s main focus is to have herders put their livestock into domestic economic circulation alongside export. Organic lamb meat is commonly consumed for its tenderness throughout the world. So why can’t we prepare them domestically and create a brand alongside consuming our own healthy, organic food?

Organic refers to lamb meat being prepared by having the livestock solely graze on pastures, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, drugs, and additives. Herders spend 3-4 years on their livestock to have them grow bigger, losing their time and worsening the current state of over-pasturing. However, we have the opportunity to process the meat of smaller livestock and put them on the market during this timeframe.

In this sense, our project aims to show that lamb meat is possible to provide for both domestic and foreign markets. As I have mentioned before, this will also serve as a solution to effectively solving the pressing issue of growth in livestock population by putting them into economic circulation. We are working with our end goal to protect our pasture, and improve the livelihood of herders.

-How many herders are participating in the project?

-There are many herders that are voluntarily being involved after being informed in the framework of our programme. Herders are participating from all 21 aimags of the country. Our goal is to introduce the mindset in herders that they have the option to put the meat of smaller livestock on the market, without being limited to full grown livestock, and introduce a preparatory model in Mongolia. We are currently implementing our activities as an incubator project.

-Could you elaborate on the partnership with ‘Mon Ecolamb’ LLC? 

-The private-owned company accepted our partnership offer as a newly established business. In general, companies seem to be rather hesitant to make big steps in the area. I believe this is due to the Mongolian tradition to not consume the meat of smaller livestock, staying true to the traditional mindset. However, it is only by changing the way we think that we will be able to solve various issues and get behind the challenge. I am grateful for the brave decision of ‘Mon Ecolamb’ company to be involved in the activities.

-How will the activities of the ‘Wealthy Herder’ programme expand in the future?

-We plan to open a leather and hide processing center. Training sessions will also be organized for herders in preparing lamb meat. As for the aimags in the Gobi region, we plan to cooperate with herders in creating additional pastureland, and improving the pasture through plants.

The Wealthy Herder programme aims to solve various pressing issues in the animal husbandry sector, such as over-pasturing, livelihood of herders, domestic migration from rural areas to urban settlements, and provision of healthy food,” he said. “All of the 230 thousand herder households in Mongolia are producers. By improving the quality of livestock and commercializing, our goal is to boost their income to the upper-middle class.”

In his remarks at the project launch ceremony, MP, Head of the Mongolian Meat Association B.Purevdorj said, “I perceive the introduction of lamb meat in Mongolia through the joint work of herders and animal husbandry experts at the initiative of a private entity is a way of protecting the pasture, improving livestock breeds, and increasing livestock quality. The project activities are expected to bring various improvements, such as improved livelihood of herders, and domestic consumption of organic, high quality food.”

During the ceremony, a herder of Gobisumber aimag M.Munkhzaya said, “Us herders have been waiting for a moment like this. We are very happy to put our lamb meat on sale, and learn that Mongolian meat will also soon be available on the global market. During this time of over-pasturing, I believe that this is an opportunity to improve the quality of our livestock and reduce their numbers.”

“The Wealthy Herder programme first launched in Gobi-Sumber aimag. Now, they are implementing the activities in western and central aimags, including Khovd, Khuvsgul, Bayan-Ulgii, Arkhangai, and Dundgobi. Someone from Dornod aimag has also recently contacted me to learn from my experience. The programme is beneficial for herders as we will be able to reduce our load on pasture, improve the quality of our livestock, and put them into circulation.

When the programme initially launched in our aimag in 2019, there were about 5-6 families involved. Now, we are currently using pelleted feeds that were specially made by scholars and specialists in the animal husbandry sector. We have also begun to take care of our lambs from early on.

We were aware of the programme’s goal from the very start. While we had to herd our livestock for 2-3 years until they were fully grown, now we receive benefits from well-herded lambs just the same as we do from full grown livestock. Last year, one of my lambs was sold for MNT 100 thousand,” he continued.

The project launch ceremony was attended by representatives of restaurants and cafes, and herders of Gobisumber and Dundgobi aimags.