How will Mongolian spring wheat and potato yields be influenced by climate change until 2050?

In December 2019, we were invited to present our research results at the international conference on “Sustainable and climate adapted land use in the Mongolian crop sector” organized by the German-Mongolian Cooperation Project for Sustainable Agriculture (DMKNL). The conference took place from 3 to 4 December 2019 in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. More details on the conference, and on the large variety of topics discussed, can be found in this article on the DMKNL website (in German language).


In the study prepared by Steffen Noleppa and Isabel Hackenberg, the authors investigated the potential impacts of climate change on Mongolia’s arable farming sector, more specifically on the country’s wheat and potato production. Potatoes, and especially wheat, are important staple foods for the Mongolian population. And already today, Mongolia’s harsh and continental climate combined with a high regional and temporal variability of precipitation patterns presents a huge challenge for arable farmers in the country.

As a result, the presented research showed that climate change is expected to further exacerbate the situation for Mongolian arable farmers, as wheat and potato yields are expected to grow slower, while annual yield variability will increase. Consequently, we predict that climate change induced yield variations will pose the greatest threat to Mongolian farmers and national food security. Based on a standard agricultural economic modelling approach the study includes detailed predictions on the regional level for eight different Mongolian provinces (“Aimags”).


In the face of the upcoming developments, responsible use of all available adaptation options needs to be made to sustainably push the productivity of Mongolia’s agricultural area and increase the resilience of its arable farmers. Important guidance can be provided by the concept of Climate Smart Agriculture. Other measures recommended by the authors include the development of the plant breeding sector, organizing substantial knowledge transfer, and improving the meteorological information system in the country.


At the conference, the research was presented by Steffen Noleppa, who also took part in a panel discussion with Mongolian and international experts. The conference was very well attended and the participants engaged in lively discussions showing that the topic of climate change is currently of great interest to the country’s agricultural sector.


The presented research was done within the new climate components of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)’s Bilateral Cooperation Programme. A policy brief summarizing the research results is now available on the DMKNL website.


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