Veterinary services in Mongolia: issues and options in the context of liberalisation of the livestock economy
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Veterinary services play a vital role in the economy of Mongolia by reducing livestock production losses and improving welfare of poor herder families. Not only does the livestock sector contribute about 70 percent of total agricultural output and make up approximately 40 percent of the country's exports, but this sector is crucial in providing food security directly for the population as a whole, almost half of which live in rural areas and whose employment and incomes depend largely on livestock. The Mongolian diet is largely based on livestock products, as domestic vegetable and crop production is limited (due to agro-climatic constraints) and as imports of food have never been very important in overall terms. However, what has been imported has in the past primarily been imported at rather low prices from Russia. The veterinary services were set up to meet the needs of the livestock economy during the communist era, characterised by (predominantly) collectivised ownership and a centrally planned economy. The old command economy is giving way to a new free market economy, though many pjrsctilcEl obstacles remain. The central question which will be addressed in this report is "how can the veterinary sector be reformed in order to better perform its roles of improving the profitability of herding and enhancing the contribution of extensive herding to food security?"