Mongolian Artisan Cheesemakers Union's mission in Mongolia
In Mongolia, conventional agro-industrial approaches to raising dairy animals and producing milk for whatever purpose are severely challenged by Mongolia's environmental, economic and infrastructural conditions. This is especially true for remote communities. On the other hand, cheese is a stable, high-value product that travels well. It has a long shelf-life and can be an export product of distinction. We think that even when produced on a small scale Mobgolia's European-style cheeses are commercially viable. We think this is especially tru for cheese produced by cheesemakers in rural communities that do not have well-developed markets for their milk.
Mongolian cheesemakers already have shown that Mongolian cheeses are a world-class product. What is need now is to develop their potentila . Mongolian cheeses have the potential to be a signature Mongolian brandd - that is, a product category of distinction that sells the country while it sells itself, as cheese already does for France, Switzerland, Wisconsin, etc. Within the context of its ow planning, MACU envisages a cheesemaking network that generates USD 20 million per year or more in revenue from 1 000 metric tons per year or more of cheese sales and ancillary products. Much of that income would remain in rural communities.
MACU believes that to unlock that potentila one needs to take cheesemaking to the areas where the animals graze during the 100 days of summer and there produce high-quality, even exotic (e.g.: the world first Bactrian camel Camenbert) cheeses, for local and foreign markets. By using and improving existing livestock and animal husbandry practices, re-purposing abandoned facilities and taking advantage of technological innovation, cheesemaking not only can become a successful industry in its own right but can contribute positively to the development of a sustainable socioecological across rural Mongolia, community by community.
Essential Components of MACU's strategy include :
* Sophisticated cheesemaking know-how that creates distinctive if not unique Mongolian cheeses that have the potential to gain recognition around the world for their qualities and otherwise have a marketing story that will support a high-end branding strategy
* Low-cost, low-maintenance production systems that use state-of-the-art solar water-heating and continuous pasteurizing technology to enable efficient cheese production in small-scale rural cheese plants (10-ton to 50-ton per year capacity) that meet international phytosanitary standards.
* Centralized sales, distribution, marketing and export strategies and systems that both overcome the problems of getting Mongolian cheeses to market and enhance their value once they are there.
* Unified systems for affinage and quality control that not only establish and maintains standards for a particular cheese or type of cheese, but also promote the integrity of Mongolian cheeses as a National brand.
* Selective breeding programs that conserve and exploit the genetics of ancient livestock breeds and landrace types from Mongolia and elsewhere in order to improve the quality and quantity of the milk used to make Mongolian cheeses from local animals under nomadic pastoral conditions.
* And integrative approach to cheesemaking that sees a rural cheese plan as catalyst for various other environmentally friendly and sustainable commercial activities that can enhance the productivity of Mongolia's rural communities - e.g.: no-tillage, swale-irrigated hay plots or agro-forests ; local whey-based leather processing plants, beekeeping, etc.
* Internalized system of finance to meet the needs of a federated network of small-scale cheesemakers for growth and operating capital.
MACU's approacj to cheesemaking is integrative - that is, is it intends to conserve and promote sustainable animal husbandry and agriculture; to relate to contribute to the revitalization of pasture lands forests, and otherwise to have a strong carbon-offset component.