ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Nasser MunjeeSubscribe to Nasser Munjee

Development Banking

of the problem, which leads to a focus on water supply to the occlusion of crop production. Strategic thinking about how to improve the performance of canal agriculture needs to begin, I think, by imagining a situation in which, for each canal, the relevant governmental agencies and farmer representatives sit together and ask: what should be the objective for average yield per hectare over the whole project of the coming season? For any one target figure, it is possible to work backwards into the various tasks that each of the parties (e g, irrigation, agriculture, revenue, credit) must carry out, by certain times, for that target to be realisable The final choice of target depends on what each department feels able to agree to. Regular monitoring meetings can be held throughout the season, to check performance of tasks against targets. In this kind of arrangement, the terms of reference for each department are defined in terms of crop production. At present, by contrast, the terms of reference of the Irrigation Department are defined only as water supply. (The papers by Hashim Ali and Turabal Hassan are interesting in this connection.) If one asks an O and M engineer about irrigated crop production he is likely to say: "Don't ask me, that's agriculture's business" This is not necessarily a bad thing. If a canal is designed so that there are 'break-point' reservoirs at low levels in the system, within the ken of farmers, the Irrigation Department can concentrate on delivering plugs of water to each break-point reservoir on a regular schedule, while the use of the water from the reservoir is decided by an authority of the farmers themselves and/or by another branch of government specialising in irrigation as distinct from water conveyance. But such is not the case in India. Given the absence of break-point reservoirs, it is then important that the irrigation engineers themselves see crop production as part of their own responsibility. The next question is how to translate specific agricultural requirements into water delivery targets that the engineers can feasibly aim at. 1 believe that economists and other social scientists could make a contribution to this question, as also to be related, and exceedingly important, question of the conditions in which break-point reservoirs make sense. The institutional and design implications are far-reaching.
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