The follow-up guidance and survey is a program for research and survey on the progress of the action plans that the ex-participants created during the ICA- related training courses and how they utilize the experience and knowledge gained in the training.
There are two approaches; the “on-site survey,” in which the direct interviews with ex-participants in their countries, and we make “questionnaire survey” targeting participants who formerly participated in training courses over the past three years.
FY2019 ICA/IDACA Follow-up Guidance and Survey Program (Mongolia)
This year’s field visit program was carried out in Mongolia from September 30th to October 6th. Our visit held in Ulaanbaatar in relatively mild and comfortable climate before the arrival of cold winter.
The point of contact was the National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Cooperatives (NAMAC), an agricultural cooperative organization at the national level in Mongolia; NAMAC supported coordination in various areas such as making arrangements and communicating with former participants. Most of the former participants from Mongolia who were the subjects of this survey have been implementing action plans in close cooperation with dairy cooperatives, veterinary cooperatives, and farmers’ groups, where they work, contributing to the promotion of the cooperative movement in addition to improving the income and livelihood of cooperative members by utilizing the knowledge and experience they gained through training courses.
1, Current state of cooperatives in Mongolia
The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia is in charge of cooperatives in Mongolia, and 4,377 cooperatives have been registered as of 2018. The majority of them are agricultural cooperatives and dairy cooperatives. The Law on Cooperatives was first drafted in 1995 and has been amended several times since then, existing in its current form today. During our visit this time, it was shortly after an amendment was submitted to the Mongolian parliament, so that cooperatives would find it easier to procure funding. In addition, the third phase of the national program on the development of cooperatives (2019-2024) was also just approved, and various events were being planned to increase awareness of cooperatives and increase production.
Meanwhile, cooperative officials say that while they are aware of the difficulty in encouraging people constantly on the move seeking natural pastures due to Mongolia’s unique form of agriculture known as nomadic animal husbandry to form organizations, and that they believe that cooperatives will play an important role in achieving the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the current situation is such that understanding of cooperatives has not progressed among officials in charge of cooperatives and at the private sector level.
Regarding NAMAC, the apex organization of agricultural cooperatives, it is the third largest NGO in Mongolia in terms of activity size and membership. Established in 1967, it was reorganized in 1992 after a transition from socialism to democracy, and it now has 22 branch associations, 10 secondary cooperatives, 630 primary cooperatives, and 150,000 individual members.
2, Interviews with former participants and visits to cooperatives / farmers’ group
Bayakhoshuu Farmers’ Group
This is a group consisting of 10 men and women who have gathered for the purpose of securing income after their retirement. The group, which was organized following a greenhouse project by Caritas Mongolia, an international NGO, is now engaged in cultivation, processing and selling agricultural products, as well as develops household goods such as clothes and shoes.
Mr. Giikhnaran, a former training participant, serves as a coordinator, using his knowledge and experience gained through ICA training to provide guidance to the group on farming, sales, and organizational operations. Specifically, it consists of looking at the market prices of harvested vegetables to determine when to sell them, and encourage farmers who have little income in winter to make soap using sheep oil.
In addition, Mr. Giikhnaran also gave guidance to the farmers’ group to develop this group as cooperative with nine or more members, which is a requirement for forming cooperatives, so that they can register as cooperatives in the future, and provided support for participation in events with the aim of increasing their sales capabilities. Members were saying that as a result, active exchanges started among the members, resulting in sharing information with each other to enhance their skills and abilities, and vegetable cultivation leading to savings and increasing income by about 1.5 times compared with before. In addition, they were saying that it became possible to educate children on agriculture, thus producing positive effects.
Suun Dalai Tsaltsal Dairy Cooperative
Located two hours away from Ulaanbaatar, Suun Dalai Tsaltsal Dairy Cooperative was organized as a producers’ group in 2009 and became a cooperative in 2013. It is operated by 16 members of the cooperative and four staff members, and mainly collects, processes and sells raw milk.
All raw milk brought in by the members of the cooperative as well as by nomads is processed into 8-12 types of dairy products, including ice cream and curd (dried dairy products), and sold to shops and schools in Ulaanbaatar and the neighborhood.
This dairy cooperative was the target of the action plan of former training participants Ms. Tuul and Ms. Otgonbolor, and it is engaged in work to improve dairy product quality and sanitation control, creation of added value for dairy products, and expansion of sales opportunities. Ms. Tuul said, “In Japan, quality is considered important, and all members of the cooperatives follow rules in shipping agricultural products.” She conducted training by incorporating this idea, and sanitation control has been enhanced by working on increasing the production of raw milk and changing raw milk storage containers from plastic to metal. She also supported the establishment of a COOP shop for the purpose of expanding sales destinations.
According to Ms. Tseermaa, the cooperative’s president, “We were not well known when we were a producers’ group, and we had no sales outlets, but after we became cooperative, we were able to receive training, the capacity of the organization as a whole increased, and people started recognizing us. As a result, the sales volume of processed goods increased, and the income of the cooperative’s members has improved.”
In addition, we visited the Mongolian National Cooperative Association, which is an ICA member organization, the Cooperative Fair sponsored by the Mongolian Commodity Exchange, the “United Private Veterinary Clinics of Mongolia,” which is an organization to which the former participant belonged, and the Borjigon Tuya Herders’ Cooperative.