Farmers' adaptation and regional land use changes in irrigation systems under fluctuating water supply, South India
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Venot, Jean-Philippe; Jella, Kiran; Bharati, Luna; George, B.; Biggs, T.; Gangadhara Rao, Parthasaradhi; Gumma, M. K.; Acharya, Sreedhar. 2010. Farmers' adaptation and regional land use changes in irrigation systems under fluctuating water supply, South India. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, 136(9):595-609. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)IR.1943-4774.0000225
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/40549
In closing river basins where nearly all available water is committed to existing uses, downstream irrigation projects are expected to experience water shortages more frequently. Understanding the scope for resilience and adaptation of large surface irrigation systems is vital to the development of management strategies designed to mitigate the impact of river basin closure on food production and the livelihoods of farmers. A multi-level analysis (farm level surveys and regional assessment through remote sensing techniques and statistics) of the dynamics of irrigation and land use in the Nagarjuna Sagar project (South India) in times of changing water availability (2000-2006) highlights that during low flow years, there is large-scale adoption of rainfed ?or supplementary irrigated- crops that have lower land productivity but higher water productivity, and that a large fraction of land is fallowed. Cropping pattern changes during the drought reveal short term coping strategies rather than long-term evolutions: after the shock, farmers reverted to their usual cropping patterns during years with adequate canal supplies. For the sequence of water supply fluctuations observed from 2000-2006, the Nagarjuna Sagar irrigation system shows a high level of sensitivity to short-term perturbations, but long-term resilience if flows recover. Management strategies accounting for local level adaptability will be necessary to mitigate the impacts of low flow years but there is scope for improvement of the performance of the system.