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Improving water productivity in agriculture in developing economies: in search of new avenues


  • Kumar, M. Dinesh
  • van Dam, J. C.


This article shows how the various considerations for analyzing water productivity (WP) differ due to the differences in stakeholder interests, and objectives and units of analysis. Also it identifies some major gaps in WP research and the key drivers of change in WP. The main arguments are: 1] in developing economies like India the objective of WP research should also be to maximize net return per unit of water and aggregate returns for the farmer, rather than merely enhancing “crop per drop”; 2] the determinant for analyzing the impact of efficient irrigation technologies on basin level WP and water saving should be consumed fraction (CF) rather than evapotranspiration; 3] in closed basins, determinants for analyzing basin level WP improvement through water harvesting and conservation should be incremental economic returns & opportunity costs; 4] at the field level, the reliability of irrigation water and changing water allocation could be the key drivers of change in WP that need to be analyzed, whereas at the farm level, changes in the crop mix and farming system could be key drivers of change. In composite farming systems, measures to enhance WP should be based on farm-level analysis involving considerations such as risk taking ability and investment capabilities of the farmer. Finally, the options to enhance WP in agriculture seem to be quite limited, given the larger objective of addressing food security, poverty alleviation, and employment generation concerns in rural areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Kumar, M. Dinesh & van Dam, J. C., 2008. "Improving water productivity in agriculture in developing economies: in search of new avenues," IWMI Conference Proceedings 245276, International Water Management Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iwmicp:245276

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Scott, C. A., 2001. "Collective action for water harvesting: irrigation in the Lerma-Chapala basin, Mexico," IWMI Working Papers H028972, International Water Management Institute.
    2. Kumar, Dinesh M. & Ghosh, Shantanu & Patel, Ankit & Singh, Omprakash & Ravindranath, R., 2006. "Rainwater harvesting in India: some critical issues for basin planning and research," IWMI Research Reports H044538, International Water Management Institute.
    3. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Umetsu, Chieko, 2003. "Basinwide water management: a spatial model," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 1-23, January.
    4. Seckler, D., 1996. "The new era of water resources management: from \dry\ to \wet\ water savings," IWMI Research Reports H018206, International Water Management Institute.
    5. Perry, C. J. & Narayanamurthy, S. G., 1998. "Farmer response to rationed and uncertain irrigation supplies," IWMI Research Reports H022447, International Water Management Institute.
    6. Perry, C. J. & Rock, M. & Seckler, D., 1997. "Water as an economic good: a solution, or a problem ?," IWMI Research Reports H021492, International Water Management Institute.
    7. Oweis, T. & Hachum, A. & Kijne, J., 1999. "Water harvesting and supplemental irrigation for improved water use efficiency in dry areas," IWMI Books, Reports H024198, International Water Management Institute.
    8. Ambast, S.K. & Tyagi, N.K. & Raul, S.K., 2006. "Management of declining groundwater in the Trans Indo-Gangetic Plain (India): Some options," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 279-296, April.
    9. Zwart, Sander J. & Bastiaanssen, Wim G. M., 2004. "Review of measured crop water productivity values for irrigated wheat, rice, cotton and maize," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 115-133, September.
    10. Scott, Christopher A. & Silva-Ochoa, Paula, 2001. "Collective action for water harvesting irrigation in the Lerma-Chapala Basin, Mexico:," CAPRi working papers 20, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. Kumar, M. Dinesh & Ghosh, Shantanu & Patel, Ankit & Singh, Om Prakash & Ravindranath, R., 2006. "Rainwater harvesting in India: some critical issues for basin planning and research," Land Use and Water Resources Research, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Centre for Land Use and Water Resources Research, vol. 0, pages 1-17.
    12. Kumar, M. Dinesh, 2005. "Impact of electricity prices and volumetric water allocation on energy and groundwater demand management:: analysis from Western India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 39-51, January.
    13. Thobani, Mateen, 1997. "Formal Water Markets: Why, When, and How to Introduce Tradable Water Rights," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 12(2), pages 161-179, August.
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    15. Kumar, M. D., 2003. "Food security and sustainable agriculture in India: The water management challenge," IWMI Working Papers H033990, International Water Management Institute.
    16. Tsur, Yacov & Dinar, Ariel, 1995. "Efficiency and equity considerations in pricing and allocating irrigation water," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1460, The World Bank.
    17. Johansson, Robert C., 2000. "Pricing irrigation water : a literature survey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2449, The World Bank.
    18. Perry, Christopher J. & Narayanamurthy, S.G., 1998. "Farmer response to rationed and uncertain irrigation supplies," IWMI Research Reports 44582, International Water Management Institute.
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    1. Sanfo, Safiétou & Barbier, Bruno & Dabiré, Isabelle W.P. & Vlek, Paul L.G. & Fonta, William M. & Ibrahim, Boubacar & Barry, Boubacar, 2017. "Rainfall variability adaptation strategies: An ex-ante assessment of supplemental irrigation from farm ponds in southern Burkina Faso," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 80-89.

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    Agribusiness; Crop Production/Industries;


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