GNF - Organic Farming in Mongolia

Organic Farming in Mongolia



With about three million inhabitants living on a surface area four and a half times larger than Germany, Mongolia has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Despite the high economic growth over the last few years, even today one third of the population lives in poverty. A productive agriculture and thus adequate supply is only restrictedly possible due to the poor soil with the exception of the fertile grounds of the village of Khuder Soum in the province of Selenge, in the North of Mongolia, which is one of the biggest farming regions of the country. Due to the breakup of state-owned farms in 1991, most of the 400 families living in the village lost their jobs. Many of them started to cultivate small areas of land and grow vegetables in small spaces. This pilot project was intended to provide poor families with money to buy seeds and tools for vegetable gardening and with knowledge on sustainable farming methods and the long-term use of it.

The project was coordinated by the GNF in cooperation with the Mongolian nature association United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes (UMMRL), responsible for the implementation in the project area. UMMRL is a union of six associations and NGOS aiming at the protection of lakes and rivers in the Eastern, Western, South-Western and central regions of Mongolia. The NGO Khuder River is involved in this project. 


Project activities

According to article 29.2 of the Mongolian Land Law, land not exceeding 0,1 hectare may be given for possession for 15 to 60 years free of charge  to citizens for cultivating vegetables, fruits, berries and fodder plants. Based on this land possession licence 10 families (45 family members including 23 children) were given one hectare land to grow vegetables.

A. Vegetable growing and harvest

At the beginning of the project, staff of the NGO Khuder River distributed in total 1.2 tons of potatoes and 5 kg vegetable seeds to the 10 families. In late June potatoes were planted, carrots, cabbage, cucumber and onions sown. The cucumbers were sown in the greenhouse, which was built by jobless people within the scope of the project. The installation of an irrigation system with an integrated water pump to ensure optimal growth of the vegetables was part of the project as well.


B. Building of a storage facility 

In the following weeks the workmen starting building a 60 ton storage facility. This is particularly important with regard to the project sustainability. The new storage room not only allows storing vegetables to offset poor harvests, but also to sell them at local markets when the vegetable prices are high due to low supply.


C. Training of the families

There was a big interest in vegetable cultivation, growing and storage of vegetables, and some more families than the 10 selected families attended the workshop, which was organised by the NGO Khuder River. The families were instructed how to correctly utilize the soil richness and to allow the soil to regenerate in order to practice sustainable and productive farming. Appropriate irrigation and fertilisation as well as prevention of insecticides and effective use of natural resources were workshop issues. The workshop director gave hints about how to achieve high vegetable market prices and informed about vegetable products. The families were enthusiastic about the offer of the local environmental organisation and in the course of the workshop they discussed other possibilities to fight poverty in the village and  increase the income of the inhabitants.


D. Harvest

The first harvest was quite successful. From 1.2 tons of seeds over 14 tons of vegetables were harvested, particularly potatoes, onions, cabbage and cucumbers. Additionally to storing vegetables, many families produced pickled vegetables and some families started selling vegetables at regional markets.

 Harvest of cucumbers in a green house
 Potatoes of own cultivation
 Pickled gherkins
 Open land cultivation of cabbages


The local people were very satisfied with the project progression. They are allowed to continue growing vegetables on the land rented over the next years, and are convinced that both their standard of life and the quality of cultivated vegetables have improved. On the one hand the cultivated products contributed to a balanced nutrition of the families involved, on the other hand they were able to generate additional income. Not only the families directly concerned benefited from wholesome food, also the other village dwellers.


More information on the Mongolian lakes and the NGO United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes (UMMRL) can be found on our website.


Project Duration:


Project Country:





Project Partners:

May 2010 – May 2011




Deutsche Umwelthilfe and Rapunzel Naturkost with funds from the Hand in Hand-Fund


NGO Khuder River, United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes (UMMRL)