Digital traceability systems certifying distinct qualities of Mongolia’s nomadic livestock products handed over to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry

Local news, 05.05.2021

Over centuries, nomadic herders of Mongolia have developed numerous experience and knowledge in their endeavor to maintain a harmonious co-existence with fragile and sensitive ecosystem of dry and semi dry rangelands. However, with overgrazing and the deterioration of rangelands, this ecosystem is now in danger. In the end, severe degradation of rangelands can lead to a drastic reduction of income both for herders and for Mongolia, as Agriculture including herding is the second pillar of the national economy. 

Signing ceremony
Signing ceremony ©SDC

As part of its comprehensive approach to respond to this complex issue, the 15 years-long Green Gold and Animal Health Project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has developed a full traceability system called Responsible Nomads. Here, we would like to highlight 3 of its digital modules: an Animal Husbandry Welfare Information System, a Herd Management Planning System and a Milk Supply Traceability System. In March 2021,  three systems have been handed over to the Mongolian Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry. These traceability systems provide stakeholders with the tools to appreciate best practices of nomadic livestock herding; enable them to source their livestock raw materials from nomadic herders who maintain healthy rangeland and treat their livestock responsibly. They moreover promote the value chain of livestock products that incentivize improvements in animal care and land management.

1.   Animal Husbandry Welfare Information System

SDC together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Light Industry /University of developed the «Animal Husbandry Welfare Information System”. Through this system, all relevant information can be exchanged between provincial and local herder organizations involved in animal husbandry. It guaranties, that everyone has access to information she or he would need. This increases the transparency and accountability. And it allows, that relevant information on animal welfare can be monitored in a timely manner, paving the way for the digitalization of the livestock sector.

During the development phase, it was important for SDC that the animal welfare indicators have not been just of scientific interest, but chosen in consultation with herders and local specialists. We are convinced, that the herders have the knowledge on best practices and traditional knowledge, which is the guaranty for highly resilient capacity of local livestock’s breeds to climatic and rangeland conditions of the country.

2.   Herd Management Planning System

At a time when the number of livestock exceeds the carrying capacity of rangelands on one hand, and the quality and value of livestock and the derivated products face a decline in terms of productivity and performance, the new web-based Herd Management Planning System represents an important and timely move toward progress.

The adoption of the Herd Management Planning System creates a variety of possibilities and practical applications for livestock production planning in a science-based and integrated manner. For example: adjusting herd size to suit the carrying capacity of rangelands

3.    Milk Supply and Traceability System

Together with the herders and the governmental institutions, SDC supported the design and development of a Milk Supply and Traceability System. This system links herders and dairy farmers to new markets, validating the origin and quality of their raw materials.

The Milk Supply and Traceability System allows producers to register the milk supplied to processing factories. It provides milk quality and safety. Covering the entire milk supply chain, the consumer receives all information, - from herders and dairy farmers to end users, that the food he has at his plate and what he gives to his children, is save and of high quality.

By today, already eight domestic milk-processing companies could be selected for the implementation of a milk subsidy program for herders, dairy farmers, and intensive farming businesses. As a result, more than 2,500 herders and dairy farmers registered in the system are receiving government subsidies for traceable, high quality milk supplied to processing companies.

The system ensures the commercial provision of milk and dairy products that offer information on rangeland status, animal welfare, animal health, the quality of livestock raw materials, environmental conditions, and information about the responsibility of herders and dairy farmers.

For information please visit Sustainably managed pastures and healthy animals: Mongolia's 'green gold'