Alongside US diplomats, Spirit of America supports solar-powered greenhouse farming in Mongolia
As a result of climate change, hundreds of Mongolia’s lakes have dried up. Water, a much-needed resource for the thousands of herders in the Gobi Desert, is scarce. The Gobi region gets just 2 inches of rainfall each year, compared to an average rainfall of 30 inches in the US. This makes growing most fruits and vegetables impossible.
As a result, Mongolia is highly dependent on China for its food. The country currently imports the majority of its fresh fruits and vegetables from its southern neighbor, and its food security has been identified as a threat to its democracy.
To fight this problem, Mongolian native Byambasuren Chuluunbat, a Fulbright scholar had the idea to build a solar-paneled well in the middle of the Gobi Desert. With the help of Spirit of America, his idea came to fruition in March.
In collaboration with the US Embassy, the Governor of Umnugovi, and the Department of Agriculture of Umnugovi province, Spirit of America supported the construction of a solar-paneled well and a greenhouse for herders in the Gobi Desert to grow their own fruits and vegetables, helping them become economically independent.
Since the first seeds were planted at the end of May, hundreds of pounds of produce from over 15 vegetables have been harvested, including 86 pounds of cucumbers – a vegetable they never imagined being able to grow in the desert. “If we take care of the soil well, there is not a single vegetable that cannot be grown here,” says Burmaa Lkhagva, head of the cooperative.
The produce grown in the greenhouse has allowed the farmers to feed themselves and their families and to increase their income by selling to local markets. Within only two months of greenhouse farming, the average income of the families increased by more than 20 percent.
This project also combats the ecological issue of overgrazing in the Gobi region and provides a sustainable alternative to grazing.
See the results and hear from the families firsthand in the following video:
Though this solar-paneled well and greenhouse was a pilot program, Spirit of America is working with the US Embassy and local partners to scale the project based on its early success.
This program supports the US and Spirit of America’s efforts to establish long-term sustainable projects in Mongolia and facilitate local entrepreneurs building national resiliency.