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Submitted by Kent on
This year clients of our travel company, Boojum Expeditions, volunteered up around 2k USD to "help" the herders of Renchinlhumbe soum, Khovsgol. The money is to be administered by our business partner, former governor of Renchinlhumbe and the soum veterinarian (all the same person). He reports that the local herders have agreed to let that money seed their plan to form a grazing cooperative which would: Help prepare collectively for hay cutting and veterinary service, improve access to markets and efficiencies of transport to markets, give them the local political clout to claim their collective traditional grazing grounds for exclusive use by their cooperative and let them pursue more sustainable grazing practices. Our partner has no doubt that much of the problem is too many animals exacerbating the impact of dzud. As to the question of goats: The argument that there is not a sufficient body of literature documenting the impact that goats have is a bit like saying we need to study climate change more before acting. The real problem was nailed by an earlier poster: No value added locally to Mongolian ag products. The raw cashmere goes to China and so does the raw horse hair (the largest wholesaler in the US of horse hair for industrial use and art like horse hair hitching, which has extraordinary value added potential, blithely believes their Chinese sources when told that all the first class hair comes from those vast herds of Chinese horses and the second class hair from Mongolia.) Herders actually have a lot of spare time which could be used adding value to their products. A single hitched horsehair belt retails in the US for upwards of $100 and can be made in a week of evening work. A horsehair hitched handled tashor can be made in a day or two and would sell very well. There are herders out there who are entrepreneurial and willing to think outside the ger in order to be able to maintain that lifestyle. Expanded cell coverage gives them real time access to markets and prices. NGO's need to stop looking to provide BIG solutions and focus on small, innovative projects, nurture the entrepreneurs and let them go viral. The real end of herding for northern Khovsgol will be the proposed road from Khankh across the northern end of Lake Khovsgol into the Darhat. That will be gasoline on the already problematic wild cat gold mining taking place in the Darhat.