The Value of Irrigation Water Used For Land Reclamation: A Comment (Notes & Comments)

C. E. Finney


In their article on the economics of water use on saline and
alkali lands, published in the Spring 1968 issue of the Pakistan
Development Review, Ch. Muhammed Rafiq, M. Alim Mian, and R. Brinkman
emphasize the very low economic returns from water used to reclaim
saline and alkaline land. It is conclusively shown that where water is
scarce it is far better utilized for raising the intensity of cropping
on the existing cultivated area. The authors also contend that the
reclamation of poor saline-alkali land for agriculture is un┬Čeconomic or
marginal for the private person, even at concessional water rates. This
is undoubtedly correct under the conditions of permanent water shortage,
but where surplus water is available or additional supplies can be
provided at a reasonable cost reclamation may well be justifiable from
both the farmer's and the nation's points of view.

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