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Irrigation investment in China: trends, correlates and impacts


  • Fei He
  • Yaojiang Shi
  • Renfu Luo
  • Linxiu Zhang
  • Natalie Johnson
  • Scott Rozelle


Purpose - – The purpose of this paper is to describe trends in irrigation investment in China’s rural villages in the 2000s, identify the types of villages in which investment occurred and examine whether this investment had an impact on agricultural land. Design/methodology/approach - – This study makes use of longitudinal survey data from a nearly nationally representative sample of 101 villages spread across five provinces. The outcome variables are cultivated area, sown area and effectively irrigated area, and ordinary least squares regression and fixed effects models are used for the analysis. Findings - – In spite of sustained investments into irrigation from 1998 to 2011, there has been almost no impact on agricultural land. Cultivated area and sown area have fallen across all five sample provinces while effectively irrigated area remains largely unchanged. The authors also show that there is no relationship between investment into irrigation and agricultural land. Irrigation facilities also have the lowest rate of rural resident satisfaction of any of the major public services provided. Research limitations/implications - – More research is needed to understand the impact of irrigation investment on crop yields and water savings. Practical implications - – Policymakers may need to rethink the current pattern of investment into irrigation. Originality/value - – This is the first study to quantitatively model the impact of investment into irrigation at the village level all over China.

Suggested Citation

  • Fei He & Yaojiang Shi & Renfu Luo & Linxiu Zhang & Natalie Johnson & Scott Rozelle, 2015. "Irrigation investment in China: trends, correlates and impacts," China Agricultural Economic Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 7(3), pages 344-359, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:caerpp:v:7:y:2015:i:3:p:344-359

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