The Khangai zone, part of the province ‘Aimag’ Ovorkhangai, is a mountainous zone with grasslands, pine trees, rivers and a lot of animals (wild and domesticated). In this zone, three municipalities ‘soums’ have been visited by the project team of the Waterpoint project that I work for. I will give a brief description of the herder groups we have met and the farming options in these soums.
Kharkhorin (pronounced as ‘Hahorin’) is a village with a population of
8000 people according to the Lonely Planet and 1266 herder groups according to the local governor. The people earn their income from herding their livestock (mainly cows, goats and sheep) and growing crops (mainly potatoes, carrots and cabbage). Furthermore, the village has the eldest monastery in Mongolia, dating from 1586, which attracts a lot of tourists in summer. With a number of herder groups the project made an agreement: the project establishes a water point in the area they reside and the herder groups will take care of the natural resources around these points. The water point provides water for the livestock. One of the herder group leaders showed us his house, their water point and told us about their plans to genetically improve their livestock. Their group exists of 32 families living nearby. They used to have a lot of livestock, until the winter of 2009/2010. Some of them lost over 75% of their animals because of the cold and the little feed they could provide them. Now they are planning to keep less animals, but to increase the productivity of these animals. We will help to increase their knowledge with trainings and financially with some funds they can apply to. The government is providing help by hiring three Mongolian experts on livestock breeding and pasture management and by establishing a centre for artificial insemination. Furthermore, they provided some hectares for poor families to grow crops on in 2010 and as this was very successful, they will continue that during the coming years. This means more crop residues that can be fed to the animals.