Efficient irrigation and water conservation: Evidence from South India

Ram Fishman, Xavier Giné*, Hanan G. Jacoby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Widespread adoption of efficient irrigation technologies, including drip irrigation, has been proposed to limit groundwater over-exploitation, especially in water-stressed South Asia. This paper evaluates the potential productivity and water-saving benefits of smallholder drip irrigation by conducting a randomized control trial in Andhra Pradesh, India. A group of well-owners was offered a subsidy to adopt drip irrigation, while a comparable group acted as controls. After three years, the drip group shifted more into horticultural crops, enjoyed higher farm profit, and transferred (primarily through cash sales) more of its groundwater to adjacent plots. There is no difference in groundwater pumping, which is constrained by electricity rationing in this setting. The evidence thus suggests that drip adoption in South India, while increasing irrigation efficiency, will not save groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103051
JournalJournal of Development Economics
StatePublished - May 2023


FundersFunder number
World Bank Group


    • Agricultural productivity
    • Groundwater depletion
    • Water-saving technology


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