Irrigation in Nepal: Opportunities and Constraints

Agriculture accounts for nearly two-thirds of the gross domestic product of Nepal, one of the least developed countries of the world. Thus, irrigation is important to sustaining the country’s economy. While irrigation has been practiced for decades, there is considerable need both to expand the currently irrigated area and to improve the efficiency of existing systems. There is no question that for the future economic development of an agrarian country like Nepal, irrigation development and management must play an important part. This paper reviews the potential of large- to medium-size irrigation projects in the Terai, small-size irrigation projects in the hill areas, groundwater development, farmer-managed irrigation systems, and rehabilitation of existing irrigation projects. The role of irrigation as a means of expansion of production and income of the country and institutional implications is also discussed. It should, however, be noted that before major irrigation projects can be developed, treaties with India have to be negotiated for using the waters of international rivers. Thus, realistically, it is somewhat unlikely that major developments will occur before the year 2000.

By Asit K. Biswas, 1989. Article published in Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, Volume 115, Issue 6, pages 1051-1064.

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