A Socio-Economic Analysis of Adoption of Irrigation in Saskatchewan
Manning, Shelley-Lynne Francine
The development of irrigation in Saskatchewan has been viewed as a means of stabilizing the agricultural sector, and thus the regional economy of the province. The provincial and federal governments have provided programs of financial and technical assistance to promote irrigation development. This support is based on the results of studies indicating economic benefits of such development, assuming a certain rate of adoption by Saskatchewan farmers. Upon examination it appears that Saskatchewan farmers have been slower to adopt irrigation than originally anticipated revealing a question that has not been addressed: What factors affect the adoption of irrigation technology by Saskatchewan farmers? question is the focus of this study. The data set, obtained from a survey conducted in the South Saskatchewan River Irrigation District No.1 (SSRID#l) during the summer of 1987, contained information from farmers who have adopted irrigation and those who have not. The factors which influence the decision to adopt irrigation as well as those constraining further expansion of irrigated acreage were identified. The on-farm and social characteristics of adopters and nonadopters were compared to identify differences between the two groups. The factors which affect the probability of adopting irrigation were obtained through the estimation of a probit model. A tobit model was also estimated to identify the factors which influence the commitment to irrigation. Contigency tables were analyzed to determine the relationships between certain on-farm and social characteristics, and those factors identified as influencial in the adoption decision. This methodology was also used to compare the perception of irrigation between the adopters and non-adopters. The factors which impede the adoption and further expansion of irrigation were similar for the adopters and non-adopters. Both groups of farmers identified factors relating to the economics of irrigation as major deterrents to adopting or expanding current irrigated acreage. An additional factor that prevented irrigation development was the availability of markets for irrigated crops. The results of the probit and tobit estimations suggest that the operators age, access to information, and the existence of a livestock enterprise significantly affect the probability of adopting irrigation, and the extent of irrigated acreage. The adopters exhibited a different perception of irrigation than did the non-adopters. The non-adopters did display positive attitudes towards a number of aspects regarding the benefits of irrigation. These farmers have not adopted irrigation for two specific reasons: (1) profitability expections of irrigation, and (2) concerns of future soil productivity. Policies and programs that were endorsed by the farmers included those which enhance the profitability of irrigation. However a preference for a particular type of program is indicated; those which involve the development of marketing plans for specialty crops and the assurance of a minimum price for crops produced.