Mongolian System Innovation of Food Security
Analysed through the concept of system innovation, Mongolian conditions of food security can be described as falling into three learning areas: Innovation, Research and Development (R&D) and Competence Building. First, innovation can be delivered by a new product and a new service (Edquist 2004). Innovation for food security is related to the quality of final and middle-level products and services. In order to improve national food security, both the productivity of the agriculture industry and agricultural products and services need improvement. In other words, it is important to cultivate the competiveness of the Mongolian food industry. For such innovation, the main participants are entrepreneurs and enterprises. In Mongolia, for these firms’ innovation in food and agriculture, the UFC group and the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry are the main players in the food industry. However, from the perspective of learning capabilities, apart from a few domestic entities, such as the two mentioned above, the organisation scale is too small to accept new knowledge and to build a new learning system. Most Mongolian firms are rarely ready to absorb new knowledge and learning systems for the food and agriculture industry.
For learning schemes for innovation, it would be better to implement learning for entrepreneurs, rather than an artificial learning programme. It is important to provide a learning system for entrepreneurs. This could be, for example, by creating business opportunities for entrepreneurs to work with international multinational enterprises (MNEs) by joining one of the food supply or food distributing chains. However, the important aspect is that once the enterprises obtain international standards, the experienced entrepreneurs should work with domestic business opportunities in the food industry. Eventually, it is important to create/establish internationally competitive companies in the food industry to compete with MNEs at some point. However, before reaching this point, it would be better to create rich business opportunities by entrepreneurs.
Second, R&D in the food industry refers to research and development activities conducted by government institutes, universities and private firms (Edquist 2005) . Such R&D activities can directly lead to the improvement of productivity in the food industry and natural resource management (Allison and Hobbs 2006) . If a country leads/ depends on science and technology in the food industry, the country will be dependent on other countries for food security. Currently, for Mongolian national R&D activities, different government ministries are in charge of R&D: (1) Ministry of Science and Technology, (2) Ministry of Industry, (3) The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and (4) Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Under the latter, there are important entities: “Veterinary and Breeding,” “National Centre for Animal Gene,” “Crop Promotion Fund,” “Livestock Protection Fund,” “The State Veterinary and Sanitary Central Laboratory,” “City Veterinary Office,” and “Agriculture Goods and Raw Materials Exchange Office of the Coordination Council.” Beyond the governmental structure, there are domestic/local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and foreign international aids. In addition, under the Ministry of Science, the Mongolian Academy of Sciences has 17 research institutes and centres and 9 scientific production corporations. For university R&D activities of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, currently the Mongolian State University of Agriculture plays an important role. Also, under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the National Science Council has played a critical role in R&D activities of science in Mongolia. Although Mongolia has developed sound plans for food security, technology and sustainable development, it seems there is a lack of co-ordination of R&D activities across different ministries with limited domestic funding and international funds.
Third, competence building is related to establishing sound human capital among local people (Edquist 2005) , in particular, herders and farmers in Mongolia through training and education. Schools and universities in Mongolia are important as well. Although the country has very high education and literacy levels, there is a serious lack of continuous and regular training and education for herders and farmers in remote regions. Training and education programmes launched by international entities and foreign countries have seldom succeeded in creating voluntary training and education for local herders and farmers. In particular, in the case of herders, it is very hard to create and run such programmes because they keep moving pastures in small groups across different seasons including extremely cold winters.