Evaluating the impact of Tax-for-Fee reform (Fei Gai Shui) on water resources and agriculture production in the Zhanghe Irrigation System, China
This article questions the effectiveness and viability of rural Tax-for-Fee reform (Fei Gai Shui) on water resources and agriculture production, taking the Zhanghe Irrigation System of China as a case study example. The Fei Gai Shui reform has been heralded as a possible solution for reducing the excessive fiscal burden on peasants. While the reform may achieve in relieving peasant burdens significantly, the initial impact of Fei Gai Shui on water resources and agricultural production indicate least satisfactory trends. The policy shows significant impact on rice yield and area. It might also have profound impact on cropping pattern but it has yet to be seen. Dependence on local water resources such as ponds show significant increase after Fei Gai Shui as it discouraged farmers to rely on regional water sources. Although the lower regional water use under Fei Gai Shui reduced the water charges paid by farmers, the savings were mostly offset by increasing pumping costs in accessing water from local ponds. Without any adjustments, the Fei Gai Shui is likely to cause serious predicament in agricultural sector. It is visioned that local water resources such as water ponds will continue to play an important role in sustaining agricultural production.
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