What determines irrigation efficiency when farmers face extreme weather events? A field survey of the major wheat producing regions in China
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© 2018 CAAS. Publishing services by Elsevier B.V Water availability is a major constraint on grain production in China, therefore, improving irrigation efficiency is particularly important when agriculture faces extreme weather events. This paper first calculates irrigation efficiency with a translog stochastic frontier production function and then investigates what happens when extreme weather events occur via a Tobit model. The estimated results reveal several important features of irrigation practices: i) irrigation efficiency is lower when extreme weather events occur; ii) large variations in irrigation efficiency occur across irrigation facilities; iii) the farm plots exhibit an extreme distribution across efficiency levels; and iv) water-saving techniques, technology adoption, and the maintenance of farmers’ economic resilience are major determinants of irrigation efficiency. Based on these results we propose the following recommendations: i) farmers should balance crop yield and water use; undertake relevant training programs and adopt water-saving techniques; ii) local governments and researchers should help farmers to find the optimal level of irrigation water use based on their own circumstances and provide better water-saving techniques and training programs rather than simply encouraging farmers to invest in irrigation facilities in the most extreme weather years; and iii) the income level of farm households should be increased so as to improve their resilience to natural disasters.
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