As the global population continues to climb, so does global demand for high-quality meat products. Mongolia, which produces more than 264,000 tons of fresh meat a year, is in a good position to tap high-value, international markets. In fact, livestock production is widely considered the landlocked country’s biggest prospect for economic diversification outside of copper and other minerals excavation; but there are several key challenges that stand in between international markets and the Mongolian livestock sector. International standards for sanitation are rarely met; cold chain infrastructure is limited in scale and disease fells hundreds of livestock every year.

One of the biggest threats to the livestock sector is foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a virus that affects cattle, sheep and goats. “FMD can impact the livelihoods of herders and herder families everywhere,” says D. Batchulun, President of the Mongolian Veterinary Epidemiologists Association (MVEA). “Outbreaks are on the rise, and biosecurity has never been more important.” Since international markets are closed to raw meat products from FMD infected regions, just one outbreak can negatively affect small and medium-sized business on every stretch of the livestock value chain.

Containing FMD is paramount to developing the export capacity of the livestock sector. It is for this reason that Mercy Corps facilitated a capacity-building workshop for provincial veterinarians. The workshop took place on October 26, 2017, in Ulaanbaatar. Under the guidance of six trainers from the MVEA, the more than twenty participants were taught how to identify an infected animal; how to stage the infection and how to trace it back to a single source.

Coming out of the workshop, participants felt better prepared to prevent next outbreak before it happens. Some even expressed interest in sharing what they learned with colleagues back home, in rural provinces across the country.

Educating veterinarians about FMD will do more than contain the disease. It will improve livestock productivity, open up the country to high value and international markets, improve the livelihoods of thousands of livestock producers, and build economic resilience along the livestock value chain.

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