A measure for the efficiency of water use and its determinants, a case study of small-scale irrigation schemes in North-West Province, South Africa
This paper analyses the efficiency with which water is used in small-scale irrigation schemes in North-West Province in South Africa and studies its determinants. In the study area, small-scale irrigation schemes play an important role in rural development, but the increasing pressure on water resources and the approaching introduction of water charges raise the concern for more efficient water use. With the data envelopment analysis (DEA) techniques used to compute farm-level technical efficiency measures and sub-vector efficiencies for water use, it was shown that under constant returns to scale (CRS) and variable returns to scale (VRS) specification, substantial technical inefficiencies, of 49% and 16%, respectively, exist among farmers. The sub-vector efficiencies for water proved to be even lower, indicating that if farmers became more efficient using the technology currently available, it would be possible to reallocate a fraction of the irrigation water to other water demands without threatening the role of small-scale irrigation. In a second step, Tobit regression techniques were used to examine the relationship between sub-vector efficiency for water and various farm or farmer characteristics. Farm size, landownership, fragmentation, the type of irrigation scheme, crop choice and the irrigation methods applied showed a significant impact on the sub-vector efficiency for water. Such information is valuable for extension services and policy makers since it can help to guide policies towards increased efficiency.
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