African Journal of Agricultural Research
Subscribe to AJAR
Full Name*
Email Address*

Article Number - 9D440FC61131

Vol.11(41), pp. 4109-4120 , October 2016
ISSN: 1991-637X

 Total Views: 0
 Downloaded: 0

Full Length Research Paper

Characterizing commercial cattle farms in Namibia: Risk, management, and sustainability

Roland Olbrich
  • Roland Olbrich
  • Department of Sustainability Science and Economics, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany.
  • Google Scholar
Martin F. Quaas
  • Martin F. Quaas
  • Department of Economics, University of Kiel, Germany.
  • Google Scholar
Stefan Baumgärtner
  • Stefan Baumgärtner
  • Department of Sustainability Science and Economics, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany.
  • Google Scholar

 Received: 10 March 2016  Accepted: 15 September 2016  Published: 13 October 2016

Copyright © 2016 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0

Commercial cattle farming in semi-arid regions is subject to high rainfall risk. At the same time, it is prone to rangeland degradation. Theoretical works suggest that rainfall risk management by means of financial instruments may stabilize farming-derived income over the short-term, but provides little incentives for conservative rangeland management. Thus, the use of financial strategies of income stabilization may accelerate rangeland degradation over the long term, as opposed to production or organization strategies which may alternatively be used to stabilize farming incomes. In this paper, we provide an empirical characterization of Namibian commercial cattle farming and explore the link between risk, management, and sustainability by examining structural farm patterns with a cluster analysis. Our data comes from a large-scale survey across the Namibian commercial cattle farming area, to which 398 farmers responded. Our results show that the most distinct of the three identified clusters is characterized by high sustainability and low financial risk management, and that it does not differ from the remaining two clusters with respect to income. This suggests an inverse relationship between financial risk management and sustainability, and thus supports theoretical insights.

Key words: Cattle farming, semi-arid rangelands, Namibia, empirical survey, rainfall risk, risk management, sustainability.

Andersen S, Harrison GW, Lau MI, Rutström EE (2006). Elicitation using multiple price list formats. Exp. Econ. 9:383-405.


Atlas of Namibia Project (2002). Atlas of Namibia: A portrait of the land and its people. Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Windhoek, Namibia.


Backhaus K, Erichson B, Plinke W, Weiber R (2006). Multivariate Analysemethoden: Eine anwendungsorientierte Einführung, 11th ed. Springer, Berlin, Germany.


Baumgärtner S, Quaas MF (2009a). Agro-biodiversity as natural insurance and the development of financial insurance markets, in: A Kontoleon, U Pascual and M Smale (eds), Agrobiodiversity, Conservation and Economic Development. Routledge, London pp. 293-317.


Baumgärtner S, Quaas MF (2009b). Ecological-economic viability as a criterion of strong sustainability under uncertainty. Ecol. Econ. 68:2008-2020.


Burke A (1997). The impact of large herbivores on floral composition and vegetation structure in the Naukluft Mountains, Namibia. Biodiv. Conserv. 6:1203-1217.


Calinski T, Harabasz J (1974). A dendrite method for cluster analysis. Commun. Stat. 3:1-27.


Chapman G (2010). Popular perception and climate change: Mapping the varying experience of rainfall. Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo, Norway. (Internet publication,


de Klerk J (2004). Bush Encroachment in Namibia. Report on Phase 1 of the Bush Encroachment Research, Monitoring and Management Project. Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Windhoek, Namibia.


du Plessis WP (2001). Effective rainfall defined using measurements of grass growth in the Etosha National Park, Namibia. J. Arid Environ. 48:397-417.


Duda RO, Hart PE (1973). Pattern classification and scene analysis. John Wiley and Sons, New York, United States.


Ekins P, Simon S, Deutsch L, Folke C, Groot R (2003). A framework for the practical application of the concepts of critical natural capital and strong sustainability. Ecol. Econ. 44:165-185.


Fynn R, O'Connor T (2000). Effect of stocking rate and rainfall on rangeland dynamics and cattle performance in a semi-arid savanna, South Africa. J. Appl. Ecol. 37:491-507.


Gower J (1971). A general coefficient of similarity and some of its properties. Biometrics 27:857-871.


Harrison GW, Humphrey SJ, Verschoor A (2010). Choice under uncertainty: Evidence from Ethiopia, India and Uganda. Econ. J. 120:80-104.


Joubert DF, Rothauge A, Smit GN (2008). A conceptual model of vegetation dynamics in the semiarid Highland savanna of Namibia, with particular reference to bush thickening by Acacia mellifera. J. Arid Environ. 72:2201-2210.


Kgosikoma OE, Harvie BA, Mojeremane W (2012). Bush encroachment in relation to rangeland management systems and environmental conditions in Kalahari ecosystem of Botswana. Afr. J. Agric. Res. 7:2312-2319.


Lukomska N, Quaas MF, Baumgärtner S (2014). Bush encroachment control and risk management in semi-arid rangelands. J. Environ. Manage.145:24-34.


MAWF (Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry) (2009). Agricultural statistics bulletin (2000–2007). Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Windhoek, Namibia.


MEA (Millenium Ecosystem Assessment) (2005). Chapter 22: Dryland systems, in: Hassan, R, Scholes, R, Ash, N (Eds.), Ecosystem and human well-being. Current state and trends, Island Press, Washington, DC, United States P 1.


Mendelsohn J (2006). Farming systems in Namibia. Research and Information Services in Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia.


Müller B, Quaas MF, Frank K, Baumgärtner S (2011). Pitfalls and potential of institutional change: Rain-index insurance and the sustainability of rangeland management. Ecol. Econ. 70:2137–2144.


NMS (Namibia Meteorological Service) (unpublished). Daily rainfall data for 160 weather stations for the period 1913–2008. Namibian Meteorological Service, Windhoek, Namibia.


NSA (Namibia Statistics Agency) (2015). The Namibia Labour Force Survey 2014 Report. Namibia Statistics Agency, Windhoek, Namibia.


NSA (Namibia Statistics Agency) (2012). Namibia Household and Expenditure Survey 2009 / 10, summary. Namibia Statistics Agency, Windhoek, Namibia.


Olbrich R, Quaas MF, Baumgärtner S (2009). Sustainable use of ecosystem services under multiple risks – A survey of commercial cattle farmers in semi-arid rangelands in Namibia. Working Paper Series in Economics No. 137, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany.


Olbrich R, Quaas MF, Haensler A, Baumgärtner S (2011b). Risk preferences under heterogeneous environmental risk. Working Paper Series in Economics No. 208, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany.


Olbrich R (2012). Environmental risk and sustainability: The case of commercial livestock farming in semi-arid rangelands. Dissertation, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany.


Olbrich R, Quaas MF, Baumgärtner S (2012). A survey of commercial cattle farmers in semi-arid rangelands of Namibia on risk, sustainability and management. Schmollers Jahrbuch / J. Appl. Soc. Sci. Stud. 132:463-471.


Olbrich R, Quaas MF, Baumgärtner S (2014). Personal norms of sustainability and farm management behavior. Sustainability 6:4990-5017.


Ostrom E (1999). Revisiting the commons: Local lessons, global challenges. Science 284:278-282.


Pearce DW, Marandya A, Barbier EB (1989). Blueprint for a Green Economy. Earthscan, London.


Quaas MF, Baumgärtner S (2008). Natural vs. financial insurance in the management of public-good ecosystems. Ecol. Econ. 65:397-406.


Quaas MF, Baumgärtner S (2012). Optimal grazing management rules in semi-arid rangelands with uncertain rainfall. Nat. Resour. Model. 25:364¬-387.


Quaas MF, Baumgärtner S, Becker C, Frank K, Müller B (2007). Uncertainty and sustainability in the management of rangelands. Ecol. Econ. 62:251-266.


Schutz W (2010). Personal communication, interview conducted on 01st March 2010, Meat Board of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia.


Schwartz SH (1977). Normative influences on altruism. Adv. Exp. Soc. Psychol. 10: 221-279.


Stern PC (2000). New environmental theories: Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. J. Soc. Iss. 56:407-424.


Sweet J (1998). Livestock – Coping with Drought: Namibia – A case study. Pasture Development Network, Overseas Development Institute, London, United Kingdom.


Unganai L (1996). Historic and future climatic change in Zimbabwe. Clim. Res. 6:137-145.


Ward D, Ngairorue BT (2000). Are Namibia's grasslands desertifying? J. Range Manage. 53:138-144.


Ward D, Saltz D, Ngairorue B (2004). Spatio-temporal rainfall variation and stock management in arid Namibia. Rangeland Ecol. Manage. 57:130-140.


Ward JH (1963). Hierarchical grouping to optimize an objective function. J. Am. Stat. Assoc. 58:236-244.


Wiegand K (2010). In the rhythm of the vegetation. German Res. 32:12-16.


Young HP, Burke M (2010). Norms, customs and conventions. In: Handbook of Social Economics, 1st ed., Benhabib, J, Bisin, A, Jackson, MO (Eds.). North Holland: Amsterdam, Netherlands.



APA Olbrich, R., Quaas, M. F., & Baumgärtner, S. (2016). Characterizing commercial cattle farms in Namibia: Risk, management, and sustainability. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 11(41), 4109-4120.
Chicago Roland Olbrich, Martin F. Quaas and Stefan Baumgärtner,. "Characterizing commercial cattle farms in Namibia: Risk, management, and sustainability." African Journal of Agricultural Research 11, no. 41 (2016): 4109-4120.
MLA Rol, et al. "Characterizing commercial cattle farms in Namibia: Risk, management, and sustainability." African Journal of Agricultural Research 11.41 (2016): 4109-4120.

Subscription Form