Water for Agriculture: Irrigation Economics in International Perspective

Water for Agriculture: Irrigation Economics in International Perspective

Water for Agriculture: Irrigation Economics in International Perspective

Water for Agriculture: Irrigation Economics in International Perspective

Synopsis

World population is set to increase by a third in the next 25 years, with no corresponding increase in global rainfall. About seventy per cent of the world's abstracted water is used in farming and therefore the economics of irrigation is becoming an increasingly important issue for sustainable development. Water for Agriculture provides a thorough overview of this highly topical subject, written in a clear and accessible style. The scope of the book is wide both in its analysis and in its geographical coverage. Topics covered include the infrastructure, operation and maintenance of irrigation service supply, the supply of drainage services, economic cost benefit analysis, water resource planning at the regional scale, political economy and irrigation policy. The content of Water for Agriculture is enhanced by numerous tables, diagrams, and in-depth case-studies. This book will be an essential read for those professionals involved in the planning of water resources, and for advanced students studying this topic as part of agriculture, development studies, economics, engineering, environmental science, geography, hydrology and planning courses.

Excerpt

The fundamental concepts of institutional economics may be said to be demand and supply. So it is reasonable to begin building the analytic framework of this book with farmers' demand for irrigation services. But who are these 'farmers'? Here it is worthwhile drawing a distinction between farming families and agribusinesses. With the former, a family is at the core of the labour process in crop production. That farming family may or may not engage wage-paid employees, it may grow much of its own food as well as pursuing commercial farming, and the size of its landholding is usually small. in contrast an agribusiness has no family at the core of the labour process, virtually all its staff are employees, little or no crop output is grown which is not sold, and holdings are usually large. in this book, for convenience, I shall usually adopt the term farmer, referring to farming families and agribusinesses only where the specific context requires it. Similarly, 'farmer' will be applied in the case of share tenants who may be moved by their landlord from time to time from one plot to another.

We start with a community of farmers in a river basin, each of whom has a given hectarage of land with a known cropping pattern. in output terms the farmer seeks tonnage of the crop, product quality, and crop composition and timing of the harvest appropriate to the demands of the market. On the demand side, a fundamental agronomic fact is that crop growth depends on water availability to each plant's rootzone. the soil water generated by precipitation may source this. But in those cases where soil water is known to be insufficient for crop needs between planting and harvesting, then irrigation is required. the same holds true where precipitation and soil water availability cannot be predicted with reasonable accuracy; in this case irrigation sources are necessary to make up for any deficiency that does occur, for example during a drought period. Where rainfall follows a seasonal cycle, as in the case study of the Lower Bhavani Project (see section 1.6), the demand for irrigation water is counter-cyclical.

Full irrigation is required when no crop can be reasonably grown unless water is supplied by human effort. It is necessary for virtually any productive agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions. Supplementary irrigation indicates a supply of water

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