Drivers of groundwater utilization in water-limited rice production systems in Nepal. uri icon

abstract

  • Most rice farmers in Nepal's Terai region do not fully utilize irrigation during breaks in monsoon rainfall. This leads to yield losses despite abundant groundwater resources and ongoing expansion of diesel pumps and tubewell infrastructure. We investigate this puzzle by characterizing delay factors governing tubewell irrigation across wealth and precipitation gradients. After the decision to irrigate, different factors delay irrigation by roughly one week. While more sustainable and inexpensive energy for pumping may eventually catalyze transformative change, we identify near-term interventions that may increase rice farmers' resilience to water stress in smallholder-dominated farming communities based on prevailing types of irrigation infrastructure.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020