Mongolia targets 10-fold increase in meat exports: minister

[ULAANBAATAR] Mongolia will aim to raise meat exports tenfold in the coming years as it tries to diversify its heavily mining-dependent economy, the country's agriculture minister told Reuters.
The country, landlocked between Russia and China, is under pressure to find alternative sources of growth after a decline in global coal and copper prices forced it to turn to the International Monetary Fund for aid last year.
Mongolia managed to boost meat exports more than threefold in 2017, with the total volume reaching 29,300 tonnes, but the country has failed to reach its potential as a result of longstanding animal health concerns.
"This is still a dissatisfactory quantity," said Batzorig Batjargal, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, on the sidelines of a conference in Ulaanbaatar.

"We have the potential to export more than 200,000 tonnes a year and there are many countries that want to buy Mongolian meat, which means we can increase meat exports tenfold in the near future," he said.
With total livestock at 66 million heads last year and a human population of just 3 million people, Mongolia's meat producers have no choice but to find alternative markets if they are to be profitable, Batzorig added.
Meat exports into China and Russia, its main markets, have been restricted as a result of outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD), but Batzorig said the country was currently implementing a new animal health law that should resolve the problem.
"It is true that the state was out of control on animal health in the past few years, but the current government has bold plans to change it," he said.
Divangar Sangaa, an expert at an animal health project in Mongolia run by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, said Mongolia needs now to focus on improving animal quality and health standards.
It should also work to persuade the World Organization for Animal Health to grant FMD-free status to Mongolian livestock, he said.
The country is also working to find new markets in Japan and the Middle East, with Iran a particular target as producers hope to benefit from higher halal meat prices, said Battogtokh Ish-Ochir, manager of the Mongolian Meat Association.
REUTERS
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