Publication: Can Perceptions of Reduction in Physical Water Availability Affect Irrigation Behaviour? Evidence from Jordan (Published online: 23 Jun 2022)
Frequent droughts and rapidly depleting groundwater reserves have deepened the water scarcity crisis in Jordan. Even though most farms use ‘water-saving' technologies, groundwater depletion continues at an alarming rate. We investigate how farmers' past experiences of physical water availability are related to their current behaviour, by examining the frequency of irrigation and how farmers determine irrigation needs. Data came from a primary survey of 414 commercial farms. Using the seemingly unrelated regression estimator, we find that respondents who perceived a reduction in physical water availability and agricultural losses in the past irrigated more frequently and were more likely to use self-judgement in determining irrigation needs. These relationships were more pronounced for smaller farms than larger farms, farms with sandy soil, mono-cropping farms, and owner-managed farms. These effects were lower for farms that preferred in-person approaches for receiving irrigation advice. While the frequency of irrigation was higher among stone fruit farms, the probability of using self-judgement in determining irrigation needs was higher in olive farms and vegetable farms. We argue that farmers' irrigation behaviour must be considered for groundwater management policy and planning in Jordan, an important component of the country’s ability to adapt to climate change.