Sustainable Cattle Production in Namibia

The project seeks to enable 2400 smallholder communal farmers in Namibia to sustainably manage their livestock whilst commercializing communal livestock in Northern Namibia for local and regional markets. The grazing in the communal pasture areas in the north of Namibia is unmanaged and overgrazed as cattle numbers have increased over the last decade. Using proven cattle herding and grassland management techniques developed by IRDNC in Namibia the availability of grass to cattle can be repaired and sustained. The project seeks to train the farmer in better decision making in cattle movement, selection, stocking and sales.

There is a significant opportunity to improve cattle genetics, overall animal condition and reproductive health. There is proven potential to commercialize the increased volumes of improved animals for slaughter while repairing, sustaining and reclaiming the communal pasture areas through movable corrals, herding techniques and selective grazing. The improvement in cattle genetics will also improve the volumes and quality of beef from the cattle, enabling farmers to receive higher prices for their stock. We anticipate that this will in turn lead to improved livelihoods. The project will also see to ensure the farmers will also have access to a market to sell their beef through the Danish Coop and Meatco partnership. Meatco will continue with activities after the life of the project in this way fostering sustainability.

This project will use the concept of public private partnerships as a means of achieving its objectives.  To ensure that social issues are taken into account and for purposes of sustainability, traditional leadership will play a key part in the project.

This consortium of players will use a combination of capacity building and behavior change management to achieve sustainable livestock production for smallholder farmers in Northern Namibia.

 This strategy will comprise of six activity streams.

  1. Provision of the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation and sustainable rangeland management training to the farmers to integrate a sustainable rangeland management program into the Meatco field activities using techniques developed in the conservancy areas of Namibia.  These training will be conducted in a bottom up manner ensuring that the needs of the community are taken into account and is based on better decision making using traditional gatherings of farmers. Although a skeleton programme covering the objectives and content of the training already exists (Annex 8) this will be tailored to meet the needs of target communities. These needs will be identified through interactions with traditional leaders. Meatco will involve community leaders in the development of the training material. This programme will also be delivered in local languages.
  2. Commercialization training by Meatco to encourage farmers to sell animals for slaughter at peak condition and not when too old or during times of drought. This will involve some Behavior Change Communication that will communicate the benefits of changing the status quo to the farmers. The help of traditional leaders will be enlisted in behavior change related activities.
  3. Implementation of the Meatco Owned Cattle (MOC) Meatco scheme- which is an innovative where calves are identified early by Meatco staff and tagged for slaughter and the farmers are paid up to half of the value of the animal as an upfront loan to finance the cash flow cost of raising the animal to slaughter age.
  4. Improvement of genetics and access to bulls through Meatco‘s “better bull” scheme where commercial bulls reaching commercial working retirement are sent to the northern areas to work for the last few years to improve the gene pool in the north. Local breeds will be chosen based on robustness for the local conditions and the ability to produce better quality carcass frames for meat production.
  5. Market access where farmers will be able to sell their beef through initiative of Danish Coop and Meatco.
  6. Establishment of a learning platform which will facilitate exchange of information between livestock projects in East and Southern Africa. The platform will also provide feedback and presentations to GRSB as a means of contributing technical feedback


All these activities will be underlined by a behaviour change strategy. Livestock is very valuable to the people of Namibia and forms a key part of their livelihoods. It is a way of ex-ante risk management, which is a deliberate household strategy to anticipate failures in crop yields or other income streams. However, Behaviour change is needed to allow people to recognise the added value of sustainable cattle production. Meatco and the Namibian Government have invested heavily in infrastructure to reach these remote areas to facilitate planned herd management and sale of surplus stock for cash. There is a significant missing link in the ability to make the correct decision of what to sell and when based on the availability of grazing, cattle age and condition.


Target Group

2400 farmers each with around 5 or 6 extended family herders / workers so up to 14,440 people will have some sort of exposure to the project. Women do not own or work with cattle in these tribal groups.

Each farmer is allocated up to 10Ha of designated space by the government on a 99 year lease but will graze cattle over a 10KM radius around the corral if it exists. The area used for grazing is unfenced with virtually no restrictions on animal movements. The cattle are held in 5 or 6 temporary camps and the cattle moved between the camps each day. This rotational system does not consider the grass growing cycle leading to both under grazing and over grazing at different times.

The project area is in communal land which extends to over 800,000 Ha. The 2400 project farmers will typically graze around 100 cattle over an area of 7000 Ha using natural hills, valleys and streams as boundary guides.




Equipment’s Purchased through the Project include; Scale Crates, Mobile Loading ramps, Multipurpose Crush Pen and scales with electronic beams.


­­Bulls Procured and distributed to beneficiaries in total 15 bulls have been distributed to date

Community Maping Excersice at Otjitjekua and Okong community on Range Land Management