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

Greenhouse Revolution in Ghana

A summary and analysis of greenhouse agriculture technology adoption in Ghana by Adwoa Boateng


Dahwenya Irrigation Greenhouse Enclave. Source: http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/greenhouse-revolution-to-attract-youth-into-agriculture.html

Despite increases in agricultural productivity globally per hectare, productivity levels remain significantly lower in the developing world. A combination of high rates of investment in crop research, infrastructure, and market development and appropriate policy support that took place during the first Green Revolution increased farmers’ prosperity, improved rural employment, and encouraged capitalist farming. Unfortunately, sub-Saharan Africa was the exception to the global trend. Aggregate output on the continent remains low and the prevalence of subsistence farming is high. Climate change and rising food prices continue to exacerbate food insecurities in the region, from northern Nigeria to Somalia.

Is it Africa’s time to experience its own green revolution? Increasing agricultural yields can improve well-being indicators for families and contribute to increases in economics growth. The Youth Employment Support (YES), an initiative by the Ghanaian government, hopes to utilize greenhouses to improve yields, solve the fresh produce shortage, and encourage farmers to adopt farming technologies in the Ghana’s capital, Accra.

YES is building 74 greenhouses and a nursery on a five-hectare land where seeds will be nursed and transplanted. YES will help farmers acquire new skills, through its training program, to use profitable innovate techniques in one of the 74 greenhouses. Collectively, the farmers are projected to produce an estimated 357 tons of vegetables each season (every three months). In the greenhouse, the farmer can plant year-round under high intensive cultivation. The project can reduce the market price of fresh produce in Accra and beyond. The Chief Executive of YES, Mrs. Helga Boadi, hopes that “the prices (of vegetables) will come down because we are not importing and paying duties” (Bokpe).

The YES Greenhouse village is a modern approach to the classical land contract model in development economics. In this case, the farmer enters a fixed rent contract with YES- they are granted loans to operate their greenhouse and pay back the credit after harvest. Since the greenhouse belongs to the farmer after receiving the loan, he will exert effort to obtain the highest yields possible because “the money that comes from your greenhouse is yours, less production cost” (Bokpe). Technical advancements in agriculture, like the YES Greenhouse project, have the “potential to raise aggregate growth rates in the world’s poorest countries” (Shaefer) and the economic model supports this prediction. Empirical evidence suggests that there is an inverse relationship between farm size and productivity. This project allows farmers who operate small firms to pool together to capitalize on the advantages that larger farmers have. One farmer in the village may not have the resources to fund his/her own greenhouse, but the YES Greenhouse project creates the opportunity for individual farmers to benefit from agricultural technology.

Traditionally, technology adoption depends on the target input model. The farmer has basic knowledge on farming practices, but is unaware about the target inputs- water, fertilizer, and etc.- necessary to optimize his output. After the harvest, the farmer observes how close his input or his neighbors’ input usage is to the optimal amount. Overtime, the farmer gains more knowledge on the right quantities of inputs he needs. The YES Greenhouse village significantly decreases the farmers time to discover the target level since the “system delivers just enough water and fertilizer in equal quantities to each plant” (Bokpe). Even though Mrs. Boadi is confident that the YES project will increase farmers’ output, what would incentivize farmers in the community to participate in a greenhouse project or to adopt the lessons from the training outside of his greenhouse project?

Agricultural technology adoption decisions

The simple economic model of technical adoption implies that farmers will adopt technologies, and participate in initiatives such as YES’s Greenhouse, if they are knowledgeable about the costs and benefits of adopting the new technology and the institutional conditions affecting the profitability of the technology adoption. Even if farmers have knowledge on operating a greenhouse, his financial constraints must be limited for him to participate. The project’s training process, especially for younger farmers, will prepare farmers to have successful yields in the greenhouse and utilize them in the future. With hopes that farmers in this initiative will expand their production outside of the greenhouse, information on effective farming practices can spread. Research by Conley and Udry on social learning in the diffusion of a new agricultural technology in Ghana found that farmers are highly responsive to information, so diffusing information on farming techniques in the community will benefit the entire farming network, even those who are not participating in the YES project.

comm learning

Community education in Malawi. Source: http://theconversation.com/how-low-tech-farming-innovations-can-make-african-farmers-climate-resilient-47684

If the greenhouse model in Dahwenya succeeds, how can it be implemented in other regions of the country and potentially across Africa? Farmers learn through social networks, so a communal approach, rather than picking farmers from different communities to work together, may expedite production growth and participation in other greenhouse initiatives. Also, government funding must curb the costs for the individual farmer or provide microcredit loan opportunities, and educate farmers on greenhouse horticulture. The success of the building other greenhouses depends on a constant source of water for the irrigation process. Lack of proper irrigation infrastructure partly contributes to the low agricultural productivity; therefore, implementing greenhouses in regions prone to drought, like northern Ghana, may be challenging.

Africa may be lagging in agricultural productivity and on well-being indicators, but innovative ideas like the greenhouse village can be starting point to another Green revolution. In future projects, the risks and uncertainties in mirroring this project must be considered. Farmers’ ability to bear the risks of the loan to participate in a greenhouse project and his individual risk preferences are critical to his participation. Policy makers must incentivize farmers to take the loan and participate in a greenhouse initiative.

Continue reading “Greenhouse Revolution in Ghana”

Insurance – How Uganda Will Quadruple Its Coffee Industry

An analysis explaining how an innovative style of insurance policy can lead to farmers’ confidence in coffee to rise.


The government of Uganda is promoting growth of its coffee industry by nearly 400%. Aiming to increase production of coffee from four million bags to twenty million bags, the government is investing in irrigation and subsidizing coffee seedlings to increase interest in growing coffee, a crop often seen risky by farmers because of the unpredictable nature of rainfall in Uganda. NUCAFE, the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises, is promoting crop insurance as a tool to increase interest in growing coffee. Justus Lyatuu of The Observer, writes of NUCAFE’s foray into crop insurance.

Coffee is extremely reliant on moisture and rainfall to successfully grow and mature to a  crop fit for harvest. A slight decrease in rainfall could cause mass coffee crop failure, leading farmers to stray from growing the risky crop. Nearly 65% of crop losses in Uganda are due to drought, and the farmers’ inability to accurately predict weather and effectively mitigate the risks associated with weather leads farmers to devote their resources to growing less risky and less valuable crops.

NUCAFE is encouraging farmers to grow coffee through the offering of crop insurance, which will function to reduce the risk carried by farmers from investing in the production of coffee. Farmers will pay 5% of their expected yield of harvest in the beginning of the grow, and in the event of crop failure due to weather events such as drought, the insurance policies will pay out to farmers near the expected yield of the harvest. Not only does this promote the growth of coffee by mitigating many of the risks of doing so, NUCAFE also will offer education and access to weather information from NASA to allow farmers to more accurately predict weather and mitigate losses from drought.

Index Insurance, How Can It Promote Increased Confidence in Risky Crops?

Index insurance is an emerging form of insurance beginning to become available to those in the agriculture industry, that offers policies to farmers based on weather indexes. Farmers will pay premiums to the insurer, who will in turn, pay out to the farmer in the event of weather conditions suitable for crop failure are met. For example, if the agreed upon conditions for the weather index insurance policy state that if below 15 inches of rain falls in the grow period, then the insurance policy will pay out to the farmer.

Pre-existing forms of crop insurance were structured so the farmer pays premiums to the insurer, and if the crop fails, then the insurance policy pays out near equal to the crop loss.

Index insurance has many advantages over standard crop insurance policies. Because index insurance uses publicly available data to determine if conditions for crop failure are met, transaction costs for index insurance are significantly lower than standard insurance, where claims often result in the insurer needing to inspect the farm themselves, increasing transaction costs. Lowered transaction costs are essential for financial products, and create suitable conditions for private insurers to exist in the marketplace as well as allowing small farmers to afford insurance. When transaction costs are minimized, the cost associated with the financial product is as close as possible to the cost to the insurer of paying out to policyholders. Not only does this increase potential profit margins for insurers, it keeps the cost of insurance low for farmers. Index insurance’s low transaction costs mean the product’s adoption might be possible without governmental and NGO financial support, which otherwise would be required to supplement insurers operating at a loss.

Index insurance protects insurers from moral hazard. With standard crop insurance, the policy may provide a better outcome to the farmer if the crop fails, tempting the farmer to intentionally sabotage their crop. They may have a policy that pays out more than the expected yield of their harvest, or they may be able to make the same amount of money with a failed harvest without having to put in effort to grow the crops. Because index insurance pays out when uncontrollable weather conditions are met, farmers don’t benefit from a failed harvest, it actually still serves the farmers best when they always strive for a successful harvest, since payouts aren’t determined with the outcome of the crop, but instead based on growing conditions.

Because index insurance determines if payout conditions are met based on weather data, it isn’t always effective in protecting the farmer from risk. If the farmer’s crop fails even when there has been 15 inches of rainfall in the grow season, the farmer has a failed crop and no payout from his insurance policy. If somehow the farmer’s crop succeeds when there has been less than 15 inches of rainfall in the grow season, he receives a payout even when his crop succeeded. So, while index insurance protects insurers from moral hazard, it often can result in ineffective risk mitigation for the farmers.

Index Insurance in Uganda

With the implementation of weather index insurance in Uganda for coffee farmers, coffee farmers can invest their resources to growing coffee without having to bear the risk of crop failure. Policies aimed to protect farmers from drought would pay out to farmers when drought conditions have been met. Since drought is the leading cause of crop loss in coffee agriculture, insurance policies that pay out when drought conditions occur mitigates the risk of low rainfall to coffee farmers, the largest drawback to growing coffee instead of safer crops.

Works Cited

Lyatuu, Justus. “Coffee Farmers Urged to Embrace Insurance.” The Observer. N.p., 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. <http://www.observer.ug/business/51694-coffee-farmers-urged-to-embrace-insurance.html&gt;.

Hellmuth M.E., Osgood D.E., Hess U., Moorhead A. and Bhojwani H. (eds) 2009. Index insurance and climate risk: Prospects for development and disaster management. Climate and Society No. 2. International Research. Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Columbia University, New York, USA.

Leiva, Oscar. Hands of María Del Socorro López López. Digital image. Coffeelands. Catholic Relief Services, 9 Nov. 2015. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.