Water rights of the head reach farmers in view of a water supply scenario at the extension area of the Babai Irrigation Project, Nepal

B. Adhikari, R. Verhoeven, P. Troch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The farmer managed irrigation systems (FMIS) represent those systems which are constructed and operated solely by the farmers applying their indigenous technology. The FMIS generally outperform the modern irrigation systems constructed and operated by the government agencies with regard to the water delivery effectiveness, agricultural productivity etc., and the presence of a sound organization responsible to run the FMIS, often referred to as the 'social capital', is the key to this success. This paper studies another important aspect residing in the FMIS: potentials to expand the irrigation area by means of their proper rehabilitation and modernization. Taking the case study of the Babai Irrigation Project in Nepal, it is demonstrated that the flow, which in the past was used to irrigate the 5400 ha area covered by three FMIS, can provide irrigation to an additional 8100 ha in the summer, 4180 ha vegetables in the winter and 1100 ha maize in the spring season after the FMIS rehabilitation. The "priority water rights" of the FMIS part have been evaluated based on relevant crop water requirement calculations and is found to be equal to 85.4 million m3 per year. Consequently, the dry season irrigation strategy at the extension area could be worked out based on the remaining flow. By storing the surplus discharge of the monsoon and autumn in local ponds, and by consuming them in dry period combined with nominal partial irrigation practice, wheat and mustard can be cultivated over about 4000 ha of the extension area. Furthermore, storage and surface irrigation both contribute to the groundwater recharge. The conjunctive use of ground, surface and harvested water might be the mainstream in the future for a sustainable irrigation water management in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalPhysics and Chemistry of the Earth
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Crop water requirement
  • Farmer managed irrigation systems
  • Indigenous technology
  • Priority water rights
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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