She Does it All: Veggies, Sewing and More

Mungutsetseg with her children

Munguntsetseg (41) is one of the hard working farmers in Mandal soum who grows vegetables such as potato, carrot, onion and supplies the community with fresh healthy vegetables. She works hard to feed her large family of 14 members. She lives with her husband, five children, and additionally cares for her disabled sister and her daughter, two children of her elder sister who passed away in an accident, and three of her own grandchildren. 

Munguntsetseg in her expanded farm where she grows an assortment of vegetables

Munguntsetseg learned to grow vegetables when she was 19 after working at a community farm, and after spending two years there, she wanted to have her own farm. After meeting her husband who works in a small wood factory, she started to grow potatoes in her backyard. Her husband built a greenhouse for her potatoes by framing wooden studs, but she needed cover for the green house which they couldn’t afford to buy. So Munguntsetseg decided to request support from World Vision’s area development program in Mandal soum and thankfully, she received a subsidy for a large 10m greenhouse, which she didn’t expect at all. Thanks to the new greenhouse, she started to grow additional vegetables such as cucumber and tomato. 

In 2008 Munguntsetseg received a subsidy of vegetable seeds from the ADP with the condition to borrow one sack bag of potato seeds and return back to the ADP at harvest which eventually she could multiply up to 8 bags of potato seeds. After planting potatoes in spring, I very much enjoy seeing the vegetables grow. As there are many of us, 5kg of potatoes would be eaten in just a few days, so growing vegetables by ourselves can save money,” says Munguntsetseg. 

Munguntsetseg first heard of VisionFund Mongolia from her friend and took out her very first loan of 500,000MNT (USD$250) and spent it on vegetables seeds. “I tried to take a loan from a bank but failed once. I used to get afraid to take a loan and fall into debt. But after taking a solidarity group loan from VisionFund and repaying the loan successfully I started to believe in myself,” shares Munguntsetseg. Besides growing vegetables, she also makes pickles out of them and supplies the community during winter holiday season. She has already become well known to some customers in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, and started to attend big sales exhibitions. 

Because the business is seasonal, farming is done from spring until fall and the workload during the other months is low. But Munguntsetseg never sits back waiting for a job. She started her second business in tailoring, sewing kitchen stuff such as work gloves, kitchen aprons, pot holders and oven mitts at home. In winter of 2017, she took out her second loan, increasing the amount up to 1,000,000MNT (USD$500) and invested into purchasing material to sew clothes. “I used to sew only kitchen stuff in the past but this year I’ve received many orders for holiday season including dresses for celebrations and traditional costumes for Lunar new year,” says Munguntsetseg with a big smile on her face. 

In the future, Munguntsetseg plans to renew her vegetables seeds and purchase more land in order to plant more types of vegetables. Moreover, she dreams about a bigger house expanding the sizes of the rooms and creating enough space for every member in the family.