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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Small-scale irrigation systems, on-farm production diversity, and crop commercialisation. evidence from eastern India

Pallavi Rajkhowa

Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Pallavi rajkhowa, Germany


Undernutrition and hunger continue to affect millions of people around the world. A large majority of these people come from rural families that rely on smallholder farming for food and income. However, many of these smallholder farmers continue to pursue subsistence farming for domestic consumption due to imperfect markets. Transitioning from subsistence farming to more market-oriented or commercialised farming can result in increased agriculture productivity, growth in employment, poverty reduction, and improved nutritional outcomes and diets. However, a critical requirement for smallholder farmers to transition from subsistence farming is access to and control of water. Due to a lack of access to reliable water supply throughout the dry season, most smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income nations rely on rainfed agriculture. As a result, smallholder farmers frequently leave a large percentage of their land fallow and rely on food stockpiles and/or market purchases during the wet season. In this paper using primary household data from 1105 smallholder farmers in eastern India combined with geo-spatial and remote sensing data, we analyse the effects of access to small-scale private irrigation systems on crop production diversity and crop commercialisation. We also analyse the mechanisms through which small-scale private irrigation is associated with crop commercialisation. Using historic remote sensed data on land degradation as an instrument for investment in private irrigation systems, we find that small-scale irrigation systems such as tube-wells and bore-wells have a positive and significant effect on crop production diversity, and crop commercialisation. Furthermore, we show using a system of four equations, that small-scale irrigation promotes crop commercialisation through enhanced on-farm production diversification rather than expanded land in the extensive margin.

Keywords: Crop commercialisation, crop production diversity, India , small-scale irrigation systems

Contact Address: Pallavi Rajkhowa, Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Pallavi rajkhowa, Genscheralle 3 genscherallee 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: diptarajkhowa@gmail.com

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