Syndicate content

Add new comment

Submitted by Andrei Marin on
Of roughtly 230,000 herder households, only 3-4% own more than 500 livestock (200 has come to be considered as the minimum for survival). Are these the 'huge herds' we are talking about? Or are we talking of the total national numbers- if so, what's the criterion for saying there are too many animals. Relate it to the total surface (half the size of India)? Or the total pasture area alone? How defined? In addition, in most of Mongolia the precipitation is so erratic (coefficient of variation of 40-50% for the yearly averages), and consequently the primary production so variable that looking at the density per hectare in 'an average year' makes no sense. Simply because there is no such year. Then, what is 'non-degrading' stocking density? The density that can be supported by pasture production in the worst year- which is 10 times lower that in the best year? Or should 'we' (whoever 'we' is and however questionably 'we' have come to have a stake in deciding how many animals should be allowed to graze the Mongolian pastures) accept (as herders do) that in some years the grazing pressure would be higher, and in some years some animals will die? Mongolian herders do prepare their animals for winter- they fatten them during the summer and autumn (3 kinds of fattening-targa) and do cull their herds to some extent (on average 20% of national herd slaughtered for consumption per year). They do buy hay too (some at least) but when you need hay worth 0.5 USD per head per day plus transportation (in good years) while your sheep sell for 20 USD/head, it's easy to understand why you can't rely on fodder for the long term. By the way, subsidizing hay prices may be frowned upon as anti-market economy...