Mongolian herders face record-low meat price due to tough winter

ULAN BATOR, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- For 146,000 Mongolian herder families, the winter has become increasingly tough, not only because of the low temperatures and deep snow, but also because of the resulting record-low meat price.
According to the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency, 90 percent of the country's land surface has been covered with heavy snow six to 40 cm deep. Meanwhile, temperatures in some regions have plummeted below minus 40 degrees Celsius.
Tough cold has threatened the 56.2 million livestock the Mongolian herders have raised. The rearing of livestock, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats and camels, has traditionally been the only means of livelihood for the people of the landlocked nation.
The severe winter has also made the country's meat price slump to a record low. Herders wishing to make more money have slaughtered more livestock to sell meat in major cities like Ulan Bator and thus increased the supplies there, leading the price to drop to the unexpected low.
The beef price in the market is around 4000 tugrik, or 2 U.S. dollars per kg, and 1 kg of mutton costs 3500 tugrik or 1.7 U.S. dollars, both lower than in the same period last year.
"The price of animal fodder is very expensive and I can just afford 5 bags of feed, but I have 500 sheep and 10 cattle," said Ganbayar, a header from Arkhangai province.
"I have two teenagers, a son and daughter, studying in universities in Ulan Bator and at this low price, I can no longer afford their studies," he added.
The Mongolian government predicted that the situation would further deteriorate soon and has begun to take action, including the allocation of 150 to 250 million tugrik (75,000 to 125,000 U.S. dollars) to help the 21 affected rural provinces.
In a bid to promote meat sales, Mongolian herders desire to export their meat to other countries like China and Russia. However, exports remain low due to the nation's poor veterinary service and low livestock vaccination rate.

Source:Xinhua news agency

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