Forty Years of Irrigation Development and Reform in China

24 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020

See all articles by Jinxia Wang

Jinxia Wang

Chinese Academy of Sciences - Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy

Yunyun Zhu

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Biomolecular Chemistry

Tianhe Sun

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jikun Huang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Lijuan Zhang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Baozhu Guan

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Qiuqiong Huang

University of Arkansas

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

This study reviews 40 years of irrigation development in China including the transformation of the institutional and incentive structures in irrigation management. After rural reforms in the 1970s, irrigation investments slowed until the late 1990s. In North China, farmers became major investors in groundwater irrigation, leading to property rights’ transfer of tube wells from collective to private ownership. Despite positive effects in cropping patterns, farmer income and development of groundwater markets, privatisation has accelerated groundwater table deterioration. Since the middle of 1990s, Water User Associations have replaced village collective management of surface irrigation. This approach was adopted by most provinces by early 2001 with mixed results; only institutions with water‐saving incentives realised efficient irrigation. The Government is reforming water price policies to provide water‐saving incentives to farmers while not hurting their income. While China has focused on water rights and markets, and despite regulations and pilot projects, full implementation of water rights has been slow. Research reveals greater policy scope for expanding irrigation technologies that generate real water saving to rural areas. Given pressure associated with water scarcity and concern for food security, further effective reforms in irrigation and policy incentives are expected. The Government has also initiated some pilot projects to resolve increasing water scarcity problems through adjusting agricultural production activities.

Keywords: China, incentive mechanisms, institutional innovation, irrigation development, irrigation technologies

Suggested Citation

Wang, Jinxia and Zhu, Yunyun and Sun, Tianhe and Huang, Jikun and Zhang, Lijuan and Guan, Baozhu and Huang, Qiuqiong, Forty Years of Irrigation Development and Reform in China (January 2020). Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol. 64, Issue 1, pp. 126-149, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3586846 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8489.12334

Jinxia Wang (Contact Author)

Chinese Academy of Sciences - Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy ( email )

52 Sanlihe Rd.
Datun Road, Anwai
Beijing, Xicheng District 100864
China

Yunyun Zhu

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Biomolecular Chemistry

United States

Tianhe Sun

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Jikun Huang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) ( email )

Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP)
No. Jia 11, Datun Road
Anwai, Beijing, 100101
China
+86 10 64889440 (Phone)
+86 10 64856533 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ccap.org.cn/english/ccapstaff.asp?PID=1380

Lijuan Zhang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

52 Sanlihe Rd.
Datun Road, Anwai
Beijing, Xicheng District 100864
China

Baozhu Guan

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Qiuqiong Huang

University of Arkansas ( email )

Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

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