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Modelling Investment Optimization on Smallholder Farms through Multi-criteria Decision Approaches: An Example from Ethiopia


  • William Seitz
  • D La Torre


We use data from the Ethiopia Rural Household Survey and the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency to demonstrate a set of techniques for estimating optimal investment allocation in smallholder farming. The approaches treat farming tasks, constraints, and investments as a portfolio problem, characterized by multiple competing objectives. We formulate several versions of the multi-objective problem and solve them in three alternative ways; 1) using standard Markowitz portfolio optimization, 2) using a weighted goal programming model, and 3) a multi-horizon mean variance goal programming model, estimating all model parameters using real data. The main benefit of the goal programming formulation is the possibility to simplify in a single criterion problem complex situations in which the Decision Maker (DM) faces a trade-off between two or more objectives. We discuss the importance of portfolio allocations for smallholder farmers in minimizing risk and increasing return, and discuss how these approaches provide a framework that can be extended to practical applications in smallholder farming.

Suggested Citation

  • William Seitz & D La Torre, 2014. "Modelling Investment Optimization on Smallholder Farms through Multi-criteria Decision Approaches: An Example from Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-06, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2014-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Belaid Aouni & Fouad Ben Abdelaziz & Davide La Torre, 2012. "The stochastic goal programming model: Theory and applications," Post-Print hal-00778729, HAL.
    2. Frank Ellis, 2000. "The Determinants of Rural Livelihood Diversification in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 289-302.
    3. Stefano A. Caria & Paolo Falco, 2014. "Does the Risk of Poverty Reduce Happiness?," Development Working Papers 363, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 07 Apr 2014.
    4. repec:spr:isorms:978-1-4419-5771-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Mahmud Yesuf & Randall A. Bluffstone, 2009. "Poverty, Risk Aversion, and Path Dependence in Low-Income Countries: Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1022-1037.
    6. Spielman, David J. & Mekonnen, Dawit Kelemework & Alemu, Dawit, 2012. "Seed, fertilizer, and agricultural extension in Ethiopia," IFPRI book chapters,in: Food and agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and policy challenges, chapter 4 International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Belaïd Aouni & Cinzia Colapinto & Davide Torre, 2013. "A cardinality constrained stochastic goal programming model with satisfaction functions for venture capital investment decision making," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 205(1), pages 77-88, May.
    8. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, March.
    9. Belaid AOUNI & Cinzia COLAPINTO & Davide LA TORRE, 2008. "Solving stochastic multi-objective programming through the GP model," Departmental Working Papers 2008-18, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    10. Luisa Menapace & Gregory Colson & Roberta Raffaelli, 2013. "Risk Aversion, Subjective Beliefs, and Farmer Risk Management Strategies," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 95(2), pages 384-389.
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