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Is there a locational productivity advantage for rice cultivation? Results from a technical efficiency analysis of water use in Sri Lankan village irrigation systems

Mohottala G. Kularatne (), Namal N. Balasooriya (), Sean Pascoe () and Clevo Wilson
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Mohottala G. Kularatne: University of Kelaniya
Namal N. Balasooriya: University of Kelaniya

Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, 2017, vol. 19, issue 4, No 7, 789-806

Abstract: Abstract Allocating water among agricultural land is a complex issue. This is especially the case when there is a shortage of water. In this paper, we examine a traditional Sri Lankan water allocation system (known as Bethama) where farmers make collective decisions at the village level to determine the allocation of available reservoir water for the land that can be cultivated. This system of water allocation becomes more problematic when water for cultivation becomes scarce. Importantly, such decisions can have an impact on productivity given that the literature indicates there is a negative relationship between rice yield and the distance of farms from the water source in irrigated agriculture. In addition to testing this hypothesis, we also examine factors influencing inefficient rice production in different locations of the command area (cultivable land) within village irrigation systems (VISs). To do so, a stochastic production frontier analysis is utilised using a technical inefficiency model. This methodology provides a means of examining locational productive performance and its determinants. Primary data was collected from 460 rice farmers in the Kurunegala district in order to estimate technical efficiency in the three sub-locations of the command area: head-end fields (HEFs), middle fields (MFs) and tail-end fields (TEFs). We show that there is no ‘head–tail’ syndrome in VISs when an adequate supply of water is made available to all three sub-locations of the command area. Interestingly, the results show that TEFs are more productive than HEFs in the command area.

Keywords: Village irrigation systems; Technical efficiency; Traditional water allocating system (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/s10018-016-0176-z

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Handle: RePEc:spr:envpol:v:19:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10018-016-0176-z