The effects of agricultural water and landholdings to rural livelihoods in Indo-Gangetic basin – Research analysis by IWMI and ICAR with an emphasis on Bihar

Water use and landholding factors are widely acknowledged as major determinants of agricultural development and hence rural wealth in IGB basin and Bihar.

IWMI PaperThe current research analysis by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in cooperation with ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region is focused on the identification of agricultural water use and land scaling effects to rural livelihoods in the Indo-Gangetic basin (IGB) with an emphasis on Bihar. High attention is mainly given to irrigation policy while land is often apprehended through soil productivity aspects.

However, little importance is given to land scaling and water consumption effects in respect to agricultural development and rural livelihoods. Further, the valuation of agricultural water is another issue that has not been sufficiently elaborated. Another major aspect which is still poorly investigated pertains to farmers' perceptions towards the significance of institutional and environmental related parameters of agricultural water. Last but not least, little attention has been given to crucial socio-demographic indicators which could act as potential drivers to farmers' perceptions towards environmental related parameters of agricultural water.

The aforementioned subjects are investigated in the research in selected regions of IGB area and the outcome is presented in four separate research papers -

  • Economic effects of water use and landholding scale to farming in South Asia: evidences from Indo-Gangetic basin by Stefanos Xenarios, Bharat Sharma, Upali Amarasinghe: This paper examines the economic effects of water use and landholding scale to farming in agricultural development. The results signify that the economic viability of marginal and small landholders and water users is threatened when the study focuses on the land scaling effects to farming. Practical recommendations towards the rescheduling of irrigation and land use policies are introduced.
  • Valuating agricultural water use and ecological services in agrarian economies: evidences from eastern India by Stefanos Xenarios, Bharat Sharma, Upali Amarasinghe: This paper is further focused only on less developed clusters of Bihar state by assessing the value of irrigated water and of environmental services which are highly affecting water quality and quantity status. The effects on different landholding groups are analyzed by giving particular emphasis to marginal landholders.
  • Assessing institutional and environmental parameters of agricultural water use in South Asia: Evidences from the Indo-Gangetic Basin by Stefanos Xenarios, Bharat Sharma: This paper, presents an economic assessment through a stated preference approach on crucial institutional and environmental related parameters of agricultural water that could enhance productivity potential.
  • Environmental services and agricultural water in South Asia: Evidence from Indo-Gangetic basin by Stefanos Xenarios, Bharat Sharma, Atul Singh: This paper presents a deeper analysis on the economic value rendered to environmental services related with agricultural water. Also, vital socio-demographic elements are examined as influential factors.

The overall analysis signifies that the enhancement of rural livelihoods demands the possession of a minimum landholding scale, the introduction of institutional settings for the empowerment of groundwater irrigation and the incorporation of environmental water related services in irrigation policy. More detailed policy recommendations are described in each paper accordingly.

The report can be viewed at the website of the International Water Management Institute here

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