mongoliaMongolia is a landlocked country of Central Asia, located between China and Russia. It is geographically spread over about 1.5 million square kilometers but has the lowest population density in the world. The country’s population is about 2.8 million people (2011), and its capital is Ulaanbaatar, where about 40 percent of the population lives. A lot of Mongolians lead a nomadic, herder style of life.

Administratively, Mongolia is divided into 21 provinces (aimags). The provinces are sub-divided into 329 districts (soums). The topography of Mongolia is varied. The southern part is covered by the Gobi Desert, while the northern and western parts are covered by mountains. Mongolia’s climate comprises lengthy bitter cold winters, dry and hard summers, low precipitation, and drastic temperature fluctuations. The average temperature of the capital city remains around the freezing point throughout the year.



In Mongolia, the entire land is owned by the state. There is little private ownership of land if any as private landholders have either possession rights (leasable) or use rights (non-sellable). The agricultural sector comprises a large sub-sector of livestock and comparatively small sub-sector of crops, contributing about 37 percent of the national GDP. Mongolia has a history of state and collective farms. Arable land and permanent crops cover about 1.3 million hectares while permanent pastures cover about 117 million hectares. The livestock sub-sector provides about 90 percent of the agricultural GDP. Herd animals are goats, sheep, cattle and horses. Extreme winter weather (dzud) often causes high livestock mortality rate. The number of goats has been increasing for cashmere production, as Mongolia is the second biggest cashmere producer in the world. Main crops include corn, wheat, barley and potatoes. Besides fodder crops, sunflower, grapes, sea buckthorn, apples, European black currants, watermelons, muskmelons, onion and garlic are also grown. Mongolia has vast areas covered by forests. Freshwater fishing is also of economic importance. 

Key Statistics and Indicators




Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)











Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)









GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)











Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)





Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*



















Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO



History of Extension and the Enabling Environment

Agricultural extension services in Mongolia are quite young and were introduced as a part of agricultural policy reforms. Until 1990, the Government of Mongolia followed a top-down planning system under which collective farms were operated and the decisions regarding the choice of agricultural technology were made at the central level. In other words, agricultural extension was embedded into the political system. As the central planning and collective farming approaches started collapsing and the privatization of state farms started, not to mention the losses of human life and livestock due to poverty, hunger and extreme weather, the need for a formal agricultural extension service was felt for the purposes of technology transfer and the education of farmers in sustainable agricultural development.

Under a loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank, the government established the National Agricultural Extension Center (NAEC) in the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry in November 1996. The NAEC is the national level umbrella institution for directing and coordinating extension services provided by agricultural extension centers at the provincial (or aimag) level and by the agricultural extension teams at the district (or soum) level. The NAEC also provides technical and business advice to food producers, herders and crop producers with the aim of running their farm businesses profitably. It collaborates with the research institutions and organizes training for local extension workers, subject-matter-specialists and guest advisors from research institutions. Distance learning courses are offered to farmers and herders. Communication and training centers have been opened and Agro-parks have also been established for extension activities. A number of nationals have been sent to overseas institutions for short training or academic degree programs in extension.

The state policy on agricultural extension is to motivate and educate citizens and employers in the rural areas to engage in profitable production under market conditions, develop methods to introduce scientific and technical achievements in the industry, and to advertise and deliver information reflecting state policy. The government has prepared the National Program for Food Security (2009-2016) and the Agricultural Bank of Mongolia handles credit requests of these farmers.

Various challenges are faced by the young agricultural extension service. Even though the extension delivery responsibilities have been passed on to the provincial administrations upon the completion of certain donor-funded projects, financial constraints have not allowed the establishment of agricultural extension centers at all provinces and districts. There are no specific institutes and research programs focusing on extension issues. Physical facilities are quite limited and demonstration farms for animal and crop production have not yet been organized. There is a lack of cooperation among research institutions as well as between research and extension in view of the fact that all research and academic institutions belong to the Ministry of Education while the agricultural extension service is under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

Many multi-lateral and bi-lateral donor agencies have been assisting Mongolia in the field of rural and agricultural development, and some projects have focused on strengthening just extension. The agencies include the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), European Union (EU), German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), World Bank, and possibly some other donor agencies.

Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/Advisory Services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry

National Agricultural Extension Center
The National Agricultural Extension Center (NAEC) is responsible for operating and managing the public extension services for farmers in Mongolia. The NAEC headquarter is in Ulaanbaatar and its offices are located at the provincial and district levels.

Human resources: The NAEC headquarters has a relatively small number of permanent staff (only 10 staff in 2003). However, it is technically assisted by an advisory group of about 60 experts/scientists. The total number of staff working at NAEC branch offices in all 130 districts of all provinces is over 1,100, about 57.5 percent of which are female. In 2003, about 50 researchers were voluntarily working as part-time extension agents in difference aspects of the agricultural sector. Each provincial extension office has one full-time formal extension worker and six to seven part-time advisors. Over 120 non-official extension agents are spread across the country.

In terms of technical specialization, the total number of 410 official extension advisors, includes 123 veterinary doctors, 111 agronomists, 115 zoo technicians and 61 staff in other technical subjects. In addition, there are 690 professional advisors working for extension. Sources of these technical advisors are research institutes (Mongolia has about 50 research institutions), universities, cooperatives, government institutions, NGOs and private scientific organizations. About 64 extension groups consisting of 250 farmers and technical advisors had been established by 2005.

Mongolian State University of Agriculture
The Mongolian State University of Agriculture (website in Mongolian language; for English description, see the university page on the Face Book)offers degrees and diplomas in several agricultural disciplines, but it is not responsible for providing direct extension services to the farmers. It has, however, several programs that strengthen agricultural extension in Mongolia. For example, the university conducts research and technology advancement studies on key issues of rural development, ecology and agricultural production. It offers specialized training in technical and professional aspects for rural producers and business people. The institution also conducts extension-based activities for technology transfer and introduction of modern scientific achievements. The university has an extension training center, established in 2006 under a CIDA-funded Training for Rural Development Project. The center’s main activities are training of farmers, provision of advisory services to the farmers and investors, organization of events, and the preparation and distribution of extension publications. The center also collaborates with relevant institutions in the implementation of donor-funded projects in agricultural and rural development.

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector

Apart from some companies that import agricultural inputs and equipment, there are no private companies in Mongolia that are involved directly or indirectly in agricultural extension activities.

Non-governmental organizations

Apparently, there are no “home-grown” national NGOs in Mongolia. The closest institution to a national NGO is the Mongolian Development Gateway that was established in 2002 under the World Bank InfoDev Program. Its members are Mongolians, and its extension type projects cover distance education, distance diagnosis for rural people’s health, and small and medium enterprise technology transfer.

Quite a significant number of international NGOs have been working in Mongolia since 1990. According to the 2004 data, almost 32 percent of international NGOs in Mongolia have their headquarters in USA and about 14 percent in the Republic of Korea. These NGOs are involved mainly in the provision of basic human needs, relief to the needy social groups, and promotion of peace, human rights, and democracy. Names of a few international NGOs are Soros Foundation, World Vision, Asia Foundation, Save the Children, Hanns Seidel Foundation, and Adventist Development and Relief Agency.

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

There are several farmers’ associations and cooperative societies in Mongolia. Three examples are:

  • National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Cooperatives (NAMAC)
  • Mongolian Women Farmers Association (MWFA)
  • Buyan-Undral Primary Agricultural Cooperative

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Mongolia. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.


Training Options for Extension Professionals

There are a large number of universities and institutes in Mongolia, but only the following two institutions offer degree programs in agricultural disciplines, where pre-service education may be pursued:

  • The Mongolian State University of Agriculture, located at Ulaanbaatar
  • The University of Agriculture, located in Khovd District of Altai region

If the National Agricultural Extension Center makes necessary collaborative arrangements, extension professionals can receive tailor-made in-service training at the following institutions, including the two agricultural universities mentioned above:

  • The Plant Science Agricultural Research and Training Institute located at the Mongolian State University Agriculture campus in Darkhan-Uul District and the
  • State-owned vocational education and training centers (examples: Mongolian-Korean Technical College, Rajiv Gandhi School of Production and Arts, Ulaangom College)


Info-mediaries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

The Information, Communication Technology and Post Authority (ICTPA) in Mongolia was founded in October 2004. The ICTPA is responsible for ICT development, and leads the e-Mongolia initiative. The country has an ICT policy, and the government has also issued a White Paper on ICT Development of Mongolia in 2011.

According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Mongolia was about 105. During this same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 20. According to the Press Institute of Mongolia, in 2005, there were 37 rural radio stations, 42 television stations, 11 cable television channels and 35 local newspapers. The Internet-based online information sources included 11 newspapers, eight radio websites, and three radio and six television websites.

Under the Distance Learning Center (DLC) Project, the capital city of Ulaanbaatar is being connected to 21 districts (soums); with necessary training in ICT also being provided. By 2006, DLCs had been established in Ulaanbaatar and 14 districts. Each DLC has 20 to 30 trainees, who receive online training with live feedback. Teachers and students exchange training materials in real time, and there is a server computer in each DLC for database management and monitoring.

The IT Park, established in 2002 to promote IT business, houses about 40 IT companies involved in healthy competition. The park has 20 incubation rooms, free-of-charge Internet, rent-free office space, shared physical facilities, and management and marketing support. Frequent short- term training courses are also organized.


Resources and references

Ariunaa, L. (no date; probably 2001). Information and Communication Technology Policy in Mongolia. Mongolian Foundation for Open Society

Byambajav, D. (2006). NGOs in Mongolia: a crucial factor in Mongolian society and politics. The Mongolian Journal of International Affairs, Number 13, 2006; Pp 132-146

Chuluunbaatar, D. (2011). Introducing New Technologies for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Mongolia: Towards a Collaborative and Effective Extension System. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation; University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Enkhbayar, G., S. Tsend-Ayush, and D. Batchimeg (23 January 2011). Present Situation of Mongolian Agriculture. PowerPoint presentation made by the Engineering School of Mongolian State University of Agriculture

Hanstad, T. and J. Duncan (April 2001). Land Reform in Mongolia: Observations and Recommendations. Seattle, Washington: Rural Development Institute (RDI)

Information, Communication Technology and Post Authority (ICTPA) of Mongolia (2011). White Paper 2011 on ICT Development of Mongolia

Katz, E., L. Pluss and U. Scheidegger (August 2007). Capitalizing Experiences on the Research-Extension Interface: Forging Strategic Alliances for Innovation; Preliminary Insights from Case Examples, Personal Experiences and Literature. Lindau and Zollikofen: Swiss Center for Agricultural Extension and Rural Development (ARIDEA)

Jamtsaa, T. (2003). Mongolia Country Paper. Presented at the APO Seminar on Enhancement of Extension Systems in Agriculture, held at Faisalabad, Pakistan; 15-20 December, 2003. Also available in V.P. Sharma (ed.) Enhancement of Extension Systems in Agriculture; e-book published by the Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo. URL:

Krug, C.E. (no date). Mongolian cooperative network – General knowledge. GTZ Project, “Promotion of Organized Self-Help in Rural Areas”.

Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, Mongolia (2009). National Program for Food Security (2009-2016)

Narantsetseg, B. (2002). Current Economy and ICT Development Situation of Mongolia, 2002. InfoCon (ICT Consulting) Co.

Press Institute of Mongolia (2006). Monitoring Mongolian Media. Ulaanbaatar: Research and Information Department

Purevsuren, B.U. (18 March, 2011). TNA [Technology Need Assessment Project] Mongolian Team Activities. PowerPoint presentation made at Bangkok, Thailand

Ravjin, G. (February 2006). ICT Sector Status and Policy in Mongolia. PowerPoint presentation made at the Center of the International Cooperation for Development (CICC), Tokyo, Japan

Shagdarsuren, O. (February 2007). Tackling Isolation in Rural Mongolia: Use of Information Technologies in Agricultural Extension Services. Geographical Paper No. 181. England: The University of Reading

Tsogtsaran, B. (no date). Country Report on National Agricultural Extension System Development in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar: Crop Production Supporting Fund, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry