February 25, 2005

2005: Highlight # 7

How pervasive are irrigation rental markets in India? Mukherji peeks into NSSO data from 1970's, 80's and 90's to find that the area irrigated by the market has increased 20-fold...

The Spread and Extent of Irrigation Rental Market in India, 1976-77 to 1997-98

What Does the National Sample Survey Data Reveal?

Aditi Mukherji

This paper is based on three rounds of NSSO data, viz. 31st, 48th and 54th rounds. This is the first paper of its kind that presents a macro level spatio-temporal analysis of pump rental markets in India.

Results show that there has been an enormous increase in area irrigated through pump rental markets, from less than estimated 1 mha in 1976-77 to estimated 20 mha in 1997-98. Thus, the spread of water market and its scale of operation are huge and deserve more attention. The paper breaks certain myths. For example, the general impression that water markets in eastern India were underdeveloped stands negated. The NSSO data shows that even in 1976-77, eastern Indian states showed the highest prevalence of water market and it continues to do so even now.

The paper also suggests that ownership of pumps has become less scale biased with the overall ownership pattern shifting towards marginal, small and medium farmers, away from the large and very large farmers.

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