Micro Irrigation in Northern India

an analysis of Micro Irrigation and its potential to change agricultural industry in Northern India
By Matthew Terpstra



source: https://www.tes.com/lessons/GFrasG4idfQ0bg/micro-irrigation-image

Farmers in Northern India are in the midst of a water crisis. Due to droughts and over usage of ground water supply farmers are faced with decisions to make about their irrigation technology.  Northern India is home to some of the largest farms in the nation, which are responsible for the growth of some very essential foods. The state of Haryana, located in Northern India, has come up with an idea to require farms within 36 of their blocks to begin using micro irrigation. This change could help India’s agriculture in more ways than one, “This shift in the irrigation system would not only help in maintaining eco-balance but also lead to energy conservation” says the Economic Times Bureau.


Micro irrigation is an alternative technique to get water to massive amounts of plants throughout a farm. It has many benefits as well as costs associated with it. Along with more efficient use of water while simultaneously minimizing pests and diseases within each plant. It also allows for specialization among plants of different ages. For example, newer plants might require more water than older ones and micro irrigation allows you to spray more water on the roots of newer plants and less water on that of the older plants. Yet micro irrigation has some downsides, to start, it costs a lot of money to run the pipes through each row of plants. Additionally, it requires a lot of maintenance, the various filters within the system must be cleaned and replaced periodically. In order to make this program worth it for the many farms in the state of Haryana, the government has decided to provide incentives to farmers who take up this new technology.


India’s agricultural industry has been facing various issues with their agricultural expansion. Some of these issues include agricultural productivity, poverty in agriculturally based communities, and environmentally friendly sustainable solutions to agricultural productivity(WorldBank.org). Micro irrigation could be the solution that India needs to solve these issues. An inspiring story of a farmer in Southern India using micro irrigation provides farmers in Northern India with hope. The District Collector in the area credits micro irrigation to the success of this farm, “If it can improve yield and also cut on costs, nothing like this facility” (Nadul). Even with these facts it is unknown whether or not farmers in these 36 blocks of Haryana will use the technology.


Take Up of technological advancements


It is difficult to know whether or not farmers will take to this new technology. Throughout history it is evident that farmers will only use new technology if they are clear of the costs and benefits of the technology. Since the farmers will be heavily subsidized by the government they may be able to get a larger take up on the technology. Yet they may still face issues with take up due to the complications of micro irrigation. Because the plants require far less water they run on a system and this system may be too complicated for the average farmer in India to use.  This is where a system of social learning and Target Input Models could be extremely useful to the farmers of Haryana.


We also see in various studies in Development Economics that take up of technological advancements in the agricultural industry is extremely low unless farmers see success stories or are able to learn from their neighbors. This is evident in not only stories of micro irrigation but any form of technological advancements. This situation in Haryana is similar to the situation outlined in Conley and Udry. This paper describes the use of a fertilizer on Pineapples in Ghana and how farmers use their “information neighbors” in order to make decisions for their farm. Along with these “information neighbors” farmers use a Target Input Model in order to make a decision of whether or not to use a new technology. This target input model is essentially an outline of what they know about the new technology and how it could either benefit of cost them more in the end. This farmer learns about the inputs that they use once their yield comes in. Like the story in Ghana, Northern Indian farmers could be the lead farmers in water conservation technology.




The take up of micro irrigation in Haryana could have huge implications to the future of agriculture in India. Micro Irrigation would not only provide a sustainable solution to the growing groundwater problem within the entirety of India, but would also increase crop yield and lower costs for farmers. The people of Haryana need to realize that they are on the cornerstone of an agricultural revolution and could have major implications to the health of farms in the future. The Haryana government has taken a big step in making this a requirement in their 36 blocks and could be leading the charge to more efficient water usage within India. These farmers are in a unique situation from other developing countries, where the classic learning by doing model may not happen fast enough. Farmers must take the subsidies that they can get from the government and implement this system to not only save their farms but also that of many farms in the future.


Works Cited


India: Issues and Priorities for Agriculture. Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/05/17/india-agriculture-issues-priorities


Nadu, T. (2012, July 19). Drip irrigation, a success story. Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/drip-irrigation-a-success-story/article3660659.ece


Saving Water: Micro-Irrigation. Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.sjrwmd.com/waterconservation/savingwater/microirrigation.html


Times, E. (2017, April 12). Haryana government to promote micro irrigation by providing incentives to farmers. Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/haryana-government-to-promote-micro-irrigation-by-providing-incentives-to-farmers/articleshow/58149242.cms

Author: Econ 416 Student

Entries are contributed by undergraduate students enrolled in Economics 416: Theory of Economic Development at the University of Maryland.

3 thoughts on “Micro Irrigation in Northern India”

  1. Micro-irrigation seems like a very interesting topic that could positively affect many farms around the world, not just India. I think maybe you could’ve included a graph or diagram of how micro irrigation works and what it looks like in order to gain a better perspective. I also noticed some spelling and grammar mistakes throughout the blog, which distracted me from the insight that you were providing. Information neighbors was a very interesting part of the blog and I thought that you described it very clearly and showed how in different parts of the world, seeing is believing rather than just hearing good things about a new technology. I think target input model could have been better described, but I mostly understand what it is and how the yield of a farm helps determine what new things need to be done in order to increase it. Micro-irrigation the way you describe it, seems like it would be very beneficial to the farmers and if they can get passed the technological barriers and learning curves, I think that this could be implemented in more developing countries that face droughts.


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