The use, challenges and economic importance of draught oxen on small farms in Namibia`s eastern Caprivi region


The aim of the study was to document the challenges and value of animal draft oxen power in the Eastern Caprivi region in Namibia. The authors documented the use and value of these animals, using Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)Techniques, with qualitative and economic analysis. Furthermore, various data sources, including crop enterprise budgets, project reports, expert opinions and group discussions, were used. The findings of the study showed that in the Eastern Caprivi 81% of the farmers used oxen, with an additional 8% using oxen and tractors. Nine percent of the farmers used tractors, and only 2.2% used a hand hoe exclusively. Eighty-three percent felt that the use of oxen was an essential and sustainable farm power source. Farmers were facing multitude of challenges such as crop damage and loss due to wildlife from nearby conservancies, oxen lost to theft, disease and starvation, as well as high farm input and energy costs. Tractors were out of reach for all but the most affluent farmers. The highest yields per farm were achieved with tractors, largely due to farm size, followed by mixed power (oxen and tractors, then oxen, and finally the hand-hoe. However, when viewed on a per ha basis, as well as looking at costs of production and tractor ownership, ox farmers in some constituencies outperformed all others in gross profit. Using Net Present Value analysis at a discount of 10%, crop production using oxen also outperformed all other systems. Draught Animal Power was a sustainable energy source, as well as financially feasible from both parametric analysis and financial analysis perspective.


Natural Resources and the Environment

Publication Date



Technical Report NRM/2009/1. Windhoek: Polytechnic of Namibia, School of Natural Resources and Tourism

Document Type



Polytechnic of Namibia, School of Natural Resources and Tourism.

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