zprávy z Mongolska

Nigel Brown: The flavor of good Mongolian meat cannot be appreciated until modern production and meat science catch up with consumer demand

Nigel Brown: The flavor of good Mongolian meat cannot be appreciated until modern production and meat science catch up with cons

Nigel Brown: The flavor of good Mongolian meat cannot be appreciated until modern production and meat science catch up with cons

Dual Australian/British National, Nigel Brown was working with the RSPCA in Saudi Arabia when he responded to an advertisement seeking people interested in challenging expeditions. He applied (mentioning he was also a vet) and the next thing he was Mongolia bound - his application had been successful, was written by Allyson Seaborn....

Brown tells me, “A childhood dream came true. I spent four months up in Khovsgol on horseback looking at wildlife with a team of scientists and a few assistants. The following year I led the expedition and brought my fiance to Mongolia. She’s now my wife, Robyn.”
Brown has just finished a three and a half year stint with the EU Animal Health and Livestock Marketing Project with the Ministry of Agriculture. During this time he’s provided professional advice in many areas – disease control, veterinary services development, legislation, livestock identification and meat hygiene and training. He’s now investigating whether there is a further demand for his skills in those areas in addition to rural development, agricultural sustainability and training. Brown is keen to remain living in UB and who can blame him.
Brown has spent much of his career working in arid and semi-arid regions of the world where local agriculture has some major effects on the environment. He describes how Mongolia is the friendliest foreign country he’s ever worked in, but as in many developing countries, there is a significant lack of modern scientific knowledge which is hindering progress.
“Inevitably there is a very real desire to increase livestock production with meat exports, cashmere and wool as well as introducing larger scale dairy farms to meet urbanization demands. Many herders are keeping large numbers of animals as security and the overall stocking level is going up and up. Unfortunately, lack of knowledge regarding long term implications is causing some very poor decisions to be made by individual herders and national policy-makers.”
Brown explains that the land can only produce the same amount of pasture. The increased number of Mongolian animals are under-fed and not reaching their genetic potential in terms of yield. He says the countryside is becoming overgrazed and explains how in the last dzud, (a natural occurrence with heavy livestock mortality in winter that comes every 8-10 years, it seems) over 8 million animals died.
Brown disagrees with the notion that tradition dictates Mongolians can’t do anything about protecting their animals from severe weather. “Farmers in other cold parts of the world know that they can provide better shelter from the weather and more food to keep the animals in better condition. Their animals are able to survive what is essentially starvation and hypothermia.”
He goes on, “Nomadism is a low-input method of farming so herders really don’t invest much into their future. They may save a bit of hay for winter, but not usually enough to make much difference. Traditional housing is usually little more than a ‘lean-to’ for animals and sadly with increased modern herd sizes, they often only have the same basic shelter size they used when their flocks and herds were much smaller, so many animals are not inside any shelter.”
Brown describes his Mongolian work as simply being a source of knowledge for people eager to learn more about new methods and what else is available to help solve some of Mongolia’s livestock and farming problems. “So many of the herders and their advisors have very limited experience outside Mongolia and there is little modern information in Mongolian.”
Brown jokes that it’s not ‘rocket science’ and explains, “One hundred years ago at the start of the socialist period, a herder’s life was nearly 100% subsistence. They travelled on their livestock, ate and clothed themselves in their products and had little need for cash. Socialist-inspired urbanization, however, changed things. Certain mechanisms created a command-economy where herders produced what they required and in exchange, were provided with cash and other goods. The authorities then arranged for the re-distribution of these products.”
“Now, twenty years after the start of the market economy, there is very little ability for more remote herders to access markets for their livestock or products. Their need for cash has grown significantly – for everything from food and clothes through transport and education to essentials such as vodka, cigarettes and television.”
Brown believes that the most critical aspect of agriculture for most herders is the marketing component of the industry. Critical skills include moving livestock and their products in a free-market and converting live animals hygienically into meat that is acceptable to higher priced markets. He says, “Backyard slaughter may be suitable for home consumption – I have no problem feeding my own family on animals slaughtered out on the steppe. However, it’s not acceptable for the general public due poor standards of handling and transportation to cities.”
Brown feels there’s a great need to create a layered industry that doesn’t leave the bulk of herders out in remote areas without a marketplace for their livestock. He also believes government agencies need assistance to raise the standards of their inspection services for meat production. “Very few market places will open up with good prices if the industry cannot provide the levels of hygiene that are needed to protect consumers,” he says.
To summarize he adds, “The flavor of good Mongolian meat cannot be appreciated until modern production and meat science catch up with consumer demand.”
And what about his personal life? Brown proudly exclaims, “I love it here – both personally and professionally. Robyn and I have some great friends and feel we are helping the community in many ways, Robyn through her work with International Women’s Association of Mongolia (IWAM) and me helping her, as well as my own profession.” Brown is very proud of the fact that the recent IWAM “Masked” Ball raised 60 million tugriks for the very poor in Mongolia – mainly women and children.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Nigel Brown and his wife Robyn Hepburn somehow manage to extend their stay in UB a few more years!

Q&A Time:

-What were your first impressions of UB?
-In 1995 it was so different – even Sukhbaatar Square was different and there were no real houses between it and the mountains to the south. We have the photographs. I even have a picture of a horse-drawn cart going round the corner beside the Central Post Office with no cars in sight. The Business Centre we stayed at in UB has disappeared, but it was Khovsgol where we spent almost all the time – only stopping in UB on the way out and back. But I just loved it, there were more trees then too and the roads were in better condition as I remember.
-What is the best thing about living in Mongolia?
-The Mongolians – they tell me they invented laughter and singing. We do plenty of both out in the countryside which is just awesome with its wide open spaces and big blue sky.
-How has UB changed since you first arrived?
-More people, houses and gers and the traffic – more cars and even in the last few years so many more new and high value ones.
-Describe a perfect weekend in Mongolia.
-There is no single perfect weekend for me – it is the variation, options and lack of regularity that keeps me interested and enthusiastic in life. The one essential constant is Robyn. A ride out in the country on our own horse with her and other friends investigating the countryside, livestock and wildlife; an evening playing dominoes with good food and friends; camping or in a ger. And if the country is not possible then a good few hours of creativity – writing stories or developing murder mysteries – followed by the company of friends with home cooking and music does it for me.
-What’s your advice to UB newcomers?
-Join in as much as you can with as many different people and events as possible. You never know what or who is around the next corner and there are some great people here.
-Is there anything you can’t live without in UB?
-Not a thing – apart from really missing Robyn when she’s not here.
-Have you managed to learn any Mongolian?
-Too little – but the little I know is appreciated and slowly I learn a few new words.
-What’s your favourite UB restaurant/s?
-Just found ‘Shan Ho’ – Chinese restaurant down near the railway station which was great with friends the other night; Bull 2 along Seoul Street is also the best for groups; really enjoyed others around but consistency is a problem in so many and high prices must be matched with quality standards and service.
-What’s your favourite pastime or something you like to do to relax?
-Creative writing to the sound of interesting music.
-Picture Ulaanbaatar 20 years from now and tell me what you see.
-According to the Mayans and Nostradamus the world ends this year!
-What is your favourite Mongolian food?
-Who inspires you?
-People who do things like Robyn and the ladies at IWAM
-What was the last book you read?
-Currently reading ‘Gideon’s Spies – Mossad’s Secret Warriors’ by Gordon Thomas. Just finished ‘Beasts, Men and Gods’ by Ferdinand Ossendowski
-What is your favourite book/s of all time?
-‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexandre Dumas, ‘Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame; ‘Black Beauty’ by Anna Sewell
-Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
-I have several – “Whatever you can do or dream you can – begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it” along with “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” and “knowledge is like a stray camel – catch it wherever it is found.”
For humour two of my favourites are: “He has Van Gogh’s ear for music” and “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”
If you could have dinner with 5 people who would they be?
Firstly choice would be Robyn and our four children who live in London and Cornwall (UK) Sydney and Brisbane (Australia) but for second string I think I’d probably choose Wilfred Thesiger, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I and Chinggis Khan.

Source: InfoMongolia


05.07.2013 18:36:33
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