The National Forum on Food Security of Mongolia takes place

2017-09-13 16:49 GMT+8

ULAANBAATAR (GoGo Mongolia) - On Sep 12, The National Forum on Food Security of Mongolia is taking place in the Great Chamber of the State Palace. 

As initiated by the President, the forum is being jointly organized by the Office of the President, Secretariat of the National Security Council, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, Mongolian Association of Food Producers and the United National Food and Agriculture Organization. 

Workers in food production, farmers, livestock herders, researchers, physicians and scientists coming from all 21
aimags of Mongolia and representatives of government and non-government organizations have attended. 

President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga addressed the opening and said:

As the head of the National Security Council of Mongolia, I attach special importance to ensuring food security and have initiated today’s forum. The issue of food security was described in the Concept of National Security, which was revised in 2010, as an integral part of the national security of Mongolia. Regardless of many years of discussion, food security has remained an unsolved problem, which people have become already tired of. So, let’s put aside the definitions, slogans, and manifestations for now, and instead, let’s take actions and find the right solutions. 

I really wish that this forum could achieve tangible solutions without making excuses and be pedantry. We can talk about how food security is weak, how it is dependent on imports and how important promoting domestic food production is as much as we want. Unfortunately, nice words cannot replace food. 

Tangible and effective options must be motivating the government decisions. For instance, allowing long-term and low-interest loans to food factories will help increase their capitals in circulation and improve their economic compatibility. Unless we support the food producers basing on the time they dedicated to the food sector, amount of products they produce and supply in a year and quality performances, business loans with 20 percent annual interest will take them nowhere. 

Everyone with a brain knows that most of the total of 80 tons of fruits and berries sold at “Bars” market every day are poisoned with pesticides and preservatives, and do not meet the minimum health standards. 

Nevertheless, greenhouse farming has been thriving in Mongolia compared to what it had been before. Showing support from the government to greenhouse farmers through, for example, by allowing a discount on night time electricity and heat tariffs would become an effective solution to limiting imports of underqualified vegetables, the origins of which are uncertain.

Mongolian food production has been working with only 30 percent of its full capacity, while the government has been making excuses to take no action. Increasing the customs tax for imported food products, which are similar to the foods produced in Mongolia, up to 20 percent, which is the permitted amount according to the World Trade Organization, would be a tremendous support. Our two neighbors, [Russia and China], are protecting their domestic industries by 32 percent customs tax. Only the government can protect the domestic production. 

Mongolia has a population of 3.1 million, over 70.0 million of livestock and 1.0 million hectares of arable land. These numbers represent important things. We run land-farming in only 1.0 percent of our whole territory. If the conditions are good, the annual harvest sees surplus after full domestic supply. If only we can increase the portion of the land-farming area up to 3.0 percent, our consumers of wheat, flour, potato, carrot, and rapeseed are right next to us. 

Mongolia exported 4,958 tons of potatoes in 2014, 720 tons of carrots in 2015 and 200 tons of potatoes in 2016 to Russia. To China, export of bran totaled to 42,100 tons, 489.5 tons of hay, 489.5 tons of rapeseed in 2016. Demand for Mongolian-made flour and noodles are sufficient in China. However, government policies and adjustments in support of supply of these products are missing. Competitiveness of Vietnam is quite high, because the government has been regulating the supply of white rice to domestic market and for exports through single-window policy by purchasing 70 percent of the total demand from ordinary land-farming households, whereas Mongolia is sticking to only one regulation, which is allowing MNT 50-70 thousand per ton of wheat as land-farming incentive. The wheat incentive has been proven less and less efficient as the time goes by. Facilitating the favorable environment for irritated land-farming has turned out to be more effective than the wheat incentive.

Moreover, great opportunities await our meat sector. In 2014, 1,460 tons of horse meat and 360 tons of beef were exported, whereas, in 2015, 1,620 tons of horse meat and 860 tons of beef, and in 2016, 1,999.3 tons of horse meat and 600 tons of beef were exported to Russia. To China, only within the last year, Mongolia exported 4.0 tons of beef, 6,460 tons of horse meat, 862 tons of goat meat. There is potential for Mongolia to increase the mentioned amounts. 

I will require tangible and farsighted solutions from the cabinet, after hearing your comments and reflecting on your recommendations on this issue. 

I would like to thank Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Mr. P.Sergelen who is here with us today. We believe the Minister will convey the solutions found during this event to the cabinet. 

The fact that food security is an essential issue must be talked about at all levels and through television, radio and all instruments of media. 

And, through food security, we must face the reality of how we are living today. Children’s health, especially, dental health is in a horrific place. One of every ten children has some kind of dental issue. Eight out of ten children have cavities and decays. It also comes back to the food issue. It is the high time parents started paying close attention to their children’s dental health. 

It also raises the question of unemployment and poverty. There is even a family of six that has only two toothbrushes. These problems must be addressed. 

I reckon the banks should give out loans according to companies history and basing on their experience in and loyalty for the food sector. 

It is impossible to run food business when you have debt with more than 2.0 percent monthly interest. I believe you all agree. 

Mongolia has four seasons. In order to effectively use the wintertime, it is important to promote greenhouse farming. 

We already have practiced exports of potatoes and carrots to certain countries and regions. Why can’t we encourage it? We should be encouraging regional trade through customs discount within the 50, 100 or 200 kilometers from our neighboring countries. We made the first big step by exporting potatoes. Today’s forum aims to address such issues as the above-mentioned. 

Today, I wish all participants to talk openly about your problems and challenges, in order to make your voices heard by the cabinet”. 

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