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Water Policy Vol 11 No 2 pp 236–249 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/wp.2009.019

Evaluating the impact of ponds in sustaining crop production: a case of Zhanghe irrigation system in China

Shahbaz Mushtaqa, Shahbaz Khana,b and Mohsin Hafeezb

aCharles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia. Tel: +61 2 6933 4138. Fax: +61-2-6933-2737. *Corresponding author. E-mail: smushtaq@csu.edu.au
bCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Land & Water, Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia


Ponds are small reservoirs located in irrigated areas that allow farmers to capture rainfall, store surplus water from irrigation canals and conserve water from other sources. These ponds allow the users to obtain water on-demand providing built-in flexibility by storing water close to water users. Though ponds have been used widely in irrigated areas for many years, a recent increase in the construction of ponds because of growing water shortages and government policies are placing greater need on understanding their role in sustaining crop production.

We evaluated the impact of ponds in sustaining agricultural production, specifically the impact of ponds on cost of irrigation, crop area and production. Multivariate regression models were developed to assess the impact of ponds. The results of an assessment of the impact of access to pond water indicated that it reduces the total cost of irrigation. However, the effect is not statistically significant, whereas access to pond water had some positive but non significant impact on rice area and yield. The results did not show any significant increase in yield and rice area because of the similar quality of ponds and the ZIS canal water; the ZIS contributes around 20% to pond water. However, comparing yield using pond water and rainfed agriculture may show a significant impact of pond water. We envision that ponds will continue to play vital roles in sustaining agricultural production.

Keywords: Impact; Multivariate regression models; Sustainable agriculture; Water ponds

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