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A harsh life under communism, followed by the heavy blow of killer winters

Mendbileg Sukhtsoodol worked in Mongolia as a communist cooperative herder until communism collapsed in the country in 1991. The new government allocated the cooperative’s animals to various families, including the Sukhtsoodols, which enabled Mendbileg and his family to start earning a living by their own hard work. They succeeded in increasing their initial herd of 120 animals to 795, but three harsh winters and their isolation from population centres brought catastrophe, and his herd was decimated to only 28 animals. The family were now facing extreme poverty.

As we have previously reported, we began working in Mongolia with the nomadic herders a number of years ago. Harsh winters caused the demise of 60% of the nation’s herds—approximately 7 million head of cattle—and one in five families lost their entire herd. Our work continues as we attempt to help families such as the Sukhtsoodols become sustainably  independent. Besides supplying breeding stock to affected tribes over the years, we have also taught tribesmen to plant hardy feed for the animals and last year, we expanded our efforts by helping the locals to form Agricultural Cooperatives Mongolia (ACM).

We found that due to the harsh environment, herders were generally not very good at farming vegetables and lacked the required skills for successful vegetable farming. Vegetables are so vital to supplement the herders’ nutrition and to generate cash crops to enable them to educate their children. Through training initiated by some of our Australian supporters, herders like the Sukhtsoodol family learnt to build rudimentary hot houses and to farm vegetables successfully, inside the hothouses and on open land.

The Sukhtsoodol family learnt quickly, and their harvest has been increasing annually to the point that last year they harvested 1.2 tonnes of nine kinds of vegetables, some of which were sold at market and others were consumed.

With our encouragement, all the herders participating in this program have registered their cooperative with the Mongolian government to receive official recognition, and from 2017 onwards they will be equipped to run the program themselves without our assistance. We rejoice in this, but realistically the number of people we have been able to help is a drop in the ocean. We would love to be able to help thousands of families in the developing world with a variety of agricultural and animal husbandry projects, as this is the only way to ensure sustainable food security. Yet unfortunately, we find this sector is one of the most difficult sectors to secure funding.

We are truly grateful to our wonderful supporters in Australia and New Zealand, who enable us to reach in Jesus’ name as far away as Mongolia.

If you would like to donate to support more families like the Sukhtsoodol’s, please click below.

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