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Productivity and Performance of Irrigated Wheat Farms across Canal Commands in the Lower Indus Basin

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Hussain, Intizar; Marikar, Fuard; Jehangir, Waqar A.
Date: 2000
Agency: International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Series: IWMI Research Report, no. 44
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4208
Sector: Agriculture
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): water resources
water quality
Abstract: "Despite the widespread adoption of green revolution technology over the last three decades, enormous differences in agricultural productivity exist across farms and regions in Pakistan. Recent farm-level data from Sindh, for example, indicate that irrigated wheat output per hectare varies from 0.5 to 5.4 tons across farms. Improving and sustaining productivity, narrowing the existing productivity gaps, and enhancing resource use efficiencies to meet food requirements of a rapidly growing population is now a central goal of agricultural policy in the country. However, serious concerns over rapid degradation of both land and water resources are emerging. There is growing evidence that land quality is deteriorating with severe problems of water logging and salinity. In addition, irrigation water is becoming increasingly scarce with growing demand and increasing competition across sectors and regions. Poor management of these resources is one of the major contributing factors to this situation. "This study attempts to enhance the understanding of the factors that determine differences in agricultural productivity. The main objective of this report is to evaluate performance of irrigated wheat farms with a view to analyze cross-sectional productivity differences and to determine the productivity potential in Sindh. In contrast to most other similar studies done in Pakistan, the present study focuses on examining the influence of quality of resources and adequacy of irrigation water on farm productivity. "The study is based on cross-sectional data collected from a random sample of 1,220 irrigated wheat farms located in 14 canal commands in the Lower Indus Basin of Sindh Province. The basic approaches used in the study consist of evaluating farm performance using Data Envelopment Analysis (a non-parametric programming method), and quantifying elasticities and marginal productivity of production inputs by estimating aggregate and disaggregated production functions. The combination of these two methods provided insight into the factors that determine the observed farm productivity gaps within and among canal commands in the province. Average farm level performance index was estimated at 74 percent, implying that wheat producers can reduce inputs by 26 percent by adopting the best practices of efficient producers. The results show that the best performing producers in Sindh comprise 20 percent of the total with a performance index estimated at 100 percent. A further 30 percent is operating at a fairly high level of performance with the index ranging from 70 to 90 percent, and the remaining 50 percent is operating at low levels with the performance index ranging from 40 to 69 percent. Shortage of irrigation water in some canal commands and poor land quality in others are two fundamental constraints to productivity increases in the province. Unless these constraints are removed, benefits from other production enhancing programs, including subsidies on inputs (seed, fertilizer, credit, etc.), are likely to be very limited. Marginal productivity of irrigation water is found to vary significantly across canal commands. The analysis suggests that productivity gains in the immediate short run can be achieved by the effective reallocation of water across canal commands. However, sustained productivity increases in the long run would be achieved through effective management of, and additional investments in, both land and water resources."

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