Understanding clients, providers and the institutional dimensions of irrigation services in developing countries: A study of water markets in Bangladesh uri icon

abstract

  • Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated nations that nonetheless has largely achieved staple self-sufficiency. This development has been enabled in part by the rapid proliferation of small-scale irrigation pumps that enabled double rice cropping, as well as by a competitive market system in which farmers purchase water at affordable fee-for-service prices from private irrigation pump owners. Excess groundwater abstraction in areas of high shallow tube-well density and increased fuel costs for pumping have however called into question the sustainability of Bangladesh's groundwater irrigation economy. Cost-saving agronomic methods are called for, alongside aligned policies, markets, and farmers' incentives. The study assesses different institutions and water-pricing methods for irrigation services that have emerged in Bangladesh, each of which varies in their incentive structure for water conservation, and the level of economic risk involved for farmers and service providers. Using primary data collected from 139 irrigation service providers and 556 client-farmers, we empirically examine the structure of irrigation service types and associated market and institutional dimensions. Our findings demonstrate that competition among pump owners, social capital and personal relationships, and economic and agronomic risk perceptions of both pump owners and farmers significantly influence the structure of irrigation services and water pricing methods. Greater competition among pump owners increases the likelihood of payper-hour services and reduces the likelihood of crop harvest sharing arrangements. Based on these findings, we explore policy implications for enhancing irrigation services and irrigation sustainability in Bangladesh.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019