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Where to invest in the Indus Basin Irrigation System in Pakistan to improve land and water productivity? Insights from a hierarchical model


  • Mekonnen, Dawit
  • Hira, Channa
  • Claudia, Ringler


Irrigated agriculture accounts for about 80% of total agricultural production in Pakistan, an arid country home to the sixth largest population globally. Almost all irrigated production takes place in the Indus Basin Irrigation System, the world's largest contiguous irrigated area. The extensive system of canals transfers water from the river system to distributaries and from there to watercourses, farms, and eventually to individual farm plots. Given growing water shortages and the resulting increased variability in water flows in the system, it will be important to improve system efficiency to ensure continued increase in agricultural production. A key question remains, however, where to intervene in the system. This paper uses multilevel modeling to explore the relative importance of plots, farms, watercourses, and distributaries on the levels and variance of wheat yield, and identify entry points to improve agricultural water management in a way that can guide prioritization of investments across the different levels of the irrigation network. Our findings suggest that out of the total variation in wheat yield that is not explained by plot specific characteristics, 28% is explained by distributary level effects, 3% by watercourse level effects, and 7% by farm (household) characteristics. These findings suggest that investments that improve irrigation water delivery at the distributary level provide the highest impact per unit of dollar invested in terms of reducing yield gaps among farmers.

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  • Mekonnen, Dawit & Hira, Channa & Claudia, Ringler, "undated". "Where to invest in the Indus Basin Irrigation System in Pakistan to improve land and water productivity? Insights from a hierarchical model," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235977, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea16:235977
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.235977

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    1. Dawit K. Mekonnen & Hira Channa & Claudia Ringler, 2015. "The impact of water users' associations on the productivity of irrigated agriculture in Pakistani Punjab," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(5-6), pages 733-747, September.
    2. Byrnes, K.J., 1992. "Water Users Associations in World Bank-Assisted Irrigation Projects in Pakistan," Papers 173, World Bank - Technical Papers.
    3. Bandaragoda, D. J. & Saeed ur Rehman, 1995. "Warabandi in Pakistan's canal irrigation systems: widening gap between theory and practice," IWMI Books, Reports H017571, International Water Management Institute.
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    5. Francesco Aiello & Fernanda Ricotta, 2014. "Firm Heterogeneity In Productivity Across Europe. What Explains What?," Working Papers 201404, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    6. Mikael Svensson & Curt Hagquist, 2010. "Adolescents alcohol-use and economic conditions: a multilevel analysis of data from a period with big economic changes," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 11(6), pages 533-541, December.
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    8. Dinar, Ariel & Balakrishnan, Trichur K. & Wambia, Joseph, 2004. "Politics of institutional reforms in the water and drainage sector of Pakistan," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(3), pages 409-445, July.
    9. Dawit Mekonnen & Afreen Siddiqi & Claudia Ringler, 2016. "Drivers of groundwater use and technical efficiency of groundwater, canal water, and conjunctive use in Pakistan’s Indus Basin Irrigation System," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(3), pages 459-476, May.
    10. Overmars, Koen P. & Verburg, Peter H., 2006. "Multilevel modelling of land use from field to village level in the Philippines," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 435-456, September.
    11. Li Swain & Steven Garasky, 2007. "Migration Decisions of Dual-earner Families: An Application of Multilevel Modeling," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 151-170, March.
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    Crop Production/Industries; International Development; Production Economics; Productivity Analysis;

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