Promoting agricultural sector products to diversify the economy in Mongolia

Guest blog by Batjargal Khandjav

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

The Leading Economic Growth Program has been an absolutely inspiring intellectual journey for me during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. It was a unique opportunity to reflect on key principles of economic growth while using toolset to better understand the unfolding of policy choices and drivers of economic growth for my own country. The breadth of the information and cases from around the world brought by the course and participants helped me to confront ideas and challenge existing ones. The weekly assignments that relied on information obtained during the weeks are very engaging and the comments provided by the grader helped me to stay focused and better adapt ideas and principles taught during the course, in a concrete circumstance of my country.

Each of the modules of the LEG Program offered ideas and learnings that gave new and interesting perspectives and helped me to assess the main problems and obstacles for the economic development of Mongolia, look for the roots of these problems, analyze possible solutions to these barriers.

I think that it was extremely valuable to learn more about the growth diagnostics and the Problem-Driven Iterative Approach (PDIA). I think the PDIA and especially the deconstruction of the economic complexity problem is very intuitive and practical methodology to approach complex issues. Besides, to construct and deconstruct the assumed true bottleneck of the problem in the beginning of PDIA approach, Fishbone Diagram is effective tool. It enables to illustrate the broader view of the problem comprehensively, break down to reach true binding constraints, and create strong narrative based on the comprehensive and deep trial of bottleneck analysis. In addition, that we used throughout the course, the Atlas of Economic Complexity, and the power of visualizing data from across the world to understand how economies grow were incredible and practical in understanding a bigger and better picture on how to project future growth using economic complexity as the basic principle.  

The concepts delivered at the Program highly applicable to my growth challenge. Countries grow by diversifying into new products of increasing complexity. Strategic new products aim to balance, and, in my country, we need that. Throughout the course period, I identified the most significant binding constraints to my growth challenge and tried to develop a strategy draft that I could use to learn about problems. The strategy contains a relevant social inclusion component and the operational delivery tools bas on the PDIA. Upon the Program completion, I had tried to come up with strategic and operational solution addressing the growth challenge, to be implemented on the ground.

I have tried to put some of the ideas and lessons from the Program into action as part of the policy process with the Regional and Local Development Policy Division of our organization, it is exciting to be involved in the projection of the next strategic approach to growth in agriculture under the framework of the new and revised regional development policy for Mongolia. The goal is to build ability and authority in creating capacity and bringing expertise to improve the agricultural sector. Following the advice of having few focused  strategic bets, our Investment Policy Development Division has commenced a study on agriculture financing by developing “Strategic plan to attract investment in the agricultural sector” with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank.

Moreover, the entire know-how gained during the Program was also highly relevant to the recent context of the COVID-19 economic policy response and the growth recovery. As the Government agency responsible for the Development Policy and Planning of the country, our organization now supporting the government of Mongolia in the growth recovery policy-making process. And this offers splendid opportunity to make use of everything learned, and the draft solution during the course, in the programming of COVID recovery plan, on which our Development Policy and Planning Division is currently working. Overall, it has been a great opportunity to learn from many people and experiences, while bonding with new ideas, meeting new people, and walking unto a new journey that transformed my point of view at aspects of development. The Program has helped me to grow as an economic development professional and has helped to build capacity in my organization.

To learn more about Leading Economic Growth (LEG) watch the faculty video, and visit the course website.

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