Cooperatives Going Further Together in Mongolia

Since 2002, Global Communities has been working in the peri-urban communities or “ger” areas surrounding Mongolia’s largest cities. Ger areas are usually made up of thousands of small, fenced-in plots of land that remain isolated from the area’s main commercial activity and public services. These rural smallholders often struggle to produce high agricultural yields as they have little support from the central government, must face harsh Mongolian winters that can decimate their livestock and lack access to improved inputs, technically advanced production methods and alternative markets. Global Communities' work through the USAID-funded Enabling Market Integration for Rural Group Empowerment (EMIRGE) program has focused on expanding economic opportunities in these areas by promoting cooperative development among these smallholder farmers, encouraging them to work together and share information to overcome these challenges.

The program assists smallholder farmers in the dairy and vegetable value chains to increase their production yields and assist them in implementing the market-based solutions of their choosing. The EMIRGE Mongolia program offers technical assistance to cooperatives and groups mainly in the form of on-farm management techniques for the dairy and vegetable sectors. As a result of the program, it is common to see group meetings and workshops form, where members of cooperatives learn, connect and plan their work together. At a recent cooperative yearly planning meeting, members of the Tunkhel Suu Cooperative and Tunkhleg Shim Group came together to evaluate their 2018 production performances and discussed their 2019 goals. Tunkhel Suu Cooperative members concluded that they are committed to fully take advantage of the production capacity of their dairy processing unit in 2019, initiate greenhouse vegetable growing, and establish a small shop to sell their own products. Tunkhleg Shim group members created goals to double their potato cultivation field, triple their greenhouse cultivation and build a new 20-ton capacity vegetable cellar.

The progression from small, isolated farms to productive, collaborative farming communities is clear. President of the Tunkhel Suu Cooperative, Sh. Uranchimeg, says, “We started working with the Global Communities EMIRGE program in 2013 and as a result, winter milk output increased by 20% and household income increased by 24%. We produce quality products and our dried curd received Mongolian Best Product Award.”