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Irrigation pricing policies and its impact on agricultural inputs demand in Tunisia: A DEA-based methodology

Frija, Aymen, Wossink, Ada, Buysse, Jeroen, Speelman, Stijn, Van Huylenbroeck, Guido
Journal of environmental management 2011 v.92 no.9 pp. 2109-2118
irrigation water, demand functions, water conservation, agricultural policy, prices, farmers, cropping systems, methodology, water policy, databases, Tunisia
This paper estimates farmers’ individual irrigation water demand functions employing the information hidden in individual farmers’ technical efficiency. This information is extracted through the development of a new deductive methodology based on inverse Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) models. The empirical results for Tunisia show that farmers who are more technically efficient have less elastic irrigation water demand functions; these farmers would adjust demand only to a limited extent and they can afford the water price. In contrast, water pricing significantly affects those that are less efficient. These farmers shift towards a different cropping pattern using significantly less water and more land when the price of water increases. Thus, higher water prices would threaten this category’s livelihood if their efficiency is not improved. However, if the technical efficiency of these farmers were to improve, then it would be more difficult to reach water saving objectives since their demand will also become highly inelastic. The findings have important implications in view of the objectives of Tunisia water policy which include:full cost recovery, continuity of the irrigation activity, and water saving at the national level.