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Authors: Agrawal, Rakesh Kumar
Issue Date: 2003
Abstract: A combination of perspectives from physics, engineering and economics creates a blind spot that masks the human elements in decision-making that is critical in energy use and technology choice. As a consequence, hardware interventions continue to encounter puzzling institutional barriers, irrational consumers and other market failures that blunt their effectiveness. The scientists, designers, planners, energy policy makers and field level strategists must therefore understand the human and social worlds into which the technological devices must fit in. Acontinuous and progressive growth in innovating better products or refining and extending earlier applications lies in linking product design, development and intervention efforts to the conscious and subconscious perceptions of the target groups. Thus, public involvement and consumer perceptions become vital in designing structures and systems to alter the energy scenario of the nation. Such investigations should adopt a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating perceptions from psychological, social, technical, economic and other dimensions. Additionally, apart from statistical uncertainties, it will be beneficial to include the fuzzy nature of human thinking. The models should reflect the subconscious, intuitive and qualitative natures of the mental maps, as well possess the quantitative nature for mathematical computations. The Irrigation Pumping Adequacy (IPA) measure is developed in this study to capture the decision-making in the purchase and use of agricultural pump-sets, taking into account the above considerations. The IPA is a qualitative-cum-quantitative index, and is reflective of the farmers' satisfaction, or level of adequacy, with the pumps they are using. This has consequences for the agriculture as well as energy sectors, since irrigation consumes a large proportion of the energy used in agriculture. Such an investigation will also provide inputs in understanding and influencing the energy technology choice behaviour amongst farmers, and the methodology will be useful in designing and developing alternative technologies for complementing and supplementing the existing energy systems. Any technology that is perceived as similarly adequate for irrigation pumping should be acceptable to farmers. As a case study, the decision-making of farmers for irrigation pumping operations in Hardwar district (India) is investigated. OBJECTIVES With the above background in mind, the following objectives are framed for the study: 1. To determine the perceptual dimensions which govern the purchase and use of agricultural pump-sets. 2. To conceptualize and evaluate qualitative-cum-quantitative measures as indices capturing the decision-making in the purchase and use of agricultural pump-sets. 3. To determine the preferential order in the choice of agricultural pump-sets. 4. To examine the effect of background variables on the perceived dimensions governing the purchase and use of agricultural pump-sets. 5. To offer suggestions which could have important policy implications. METHODOLOGY Study Area and Sampling Design: Keeping the above objectives in view, Hardwar district is purposively selected for the present study since it provides a suitable farming environment and has agriculture as one of its primary economic activities; is well irrigated by both canal and groundwater; and also because of its location, accessibility and constraints of the researcher. Three types of pumps, namely electric, diesel and tractor pumps, are being used by the farmers for irrigation pumping in the region. The primary data required for the study is collected from two types of farms: those irrigated by groundwater alone, and those irrigated by both groundwater and canal water (conjunctive). For this purpose, multi-stage stratified random sampling method is employed. The total sample size consists of 306 respondents, with equal numbers being taken from those using electric, diesel or tractor pumps; and from the three types of farmers (small, medium, and large). Data Analysis: Forty-eight items incorporating economic, socio-psychological, reliability, institutional, availability and other considerations are identified. These items are separated into three panels of 16 items each (financial, operational and miscellaneous). Each panel is subjected to principal components analysis (PCA) to expose the dimensional structure of the perceptions affecting purchase and use of irrigation pumps. This is executed for each of the three energy technologies being used in the region (electric, diesel and tractor) and also for VI the overall situation. Fuzzy membership functions are assigned to the response data to generate the Irrigation Pumping Adequacy measures that act as the qualitative-cumquantitative indices. Discriminant analyses are carried out to specifically identify which variables affect the relative choice of one technology over another. MAJOR FINDINGS AND DEDUCTIONS The major findings and deductions emerging from the study are the following: The greatest degree of variation in the data is explained by recurring costs. This is followed by capital financing strength, and then by loans and subsidies. All these are the financial factors that farmers consider while making choices of the pumping systems, and are reflective of the cost barriers to adoption that any new and innovative pumping technologies must overcome for wide acceptance and diffusion. General functioning, personal ease, water efflux, repairs, and resource availability and reliability are the five factors emerging in the operational panel; while sundry criteria, availability, society and community, and technical and external influences are the dimensions constituting the miscellaneous panel. It is seen that large farmers are more satisfied on repairs, as is evident from the positive and significant coefficient between repairs and irrigated area. On the other hand, perceived repairs are negatively related with depth of groundwater, and more attention has to be paid to repairs and maintenance of tubewells as the depth increases. First hand pumps show a significant positive relationship with the overall satisfaction measure as the dependent variable. They are seen to function better, are easier to operate, and require lesser repairs. Horsepower is negatively related to most of the factors wherever significant - except to personal ease, water efflux, and resource availability and reliability, where the relationship is positive and significant. The farmers do not like investing in higher horsepower pumps, yet they go for higher HP motors to ensure timely and sufficient quantities of water for the crops. Cumulatively, the overall perceptions are positively and significantly influenced by area under irrigation, presence of surface irrigation, pumps bought being first hand; and negatively and significantly related to horsepower of the pump. Thus, farmers with larger land areas, farmers using conjunctive means of irrigation and those possessing first hand pumps find their irrigation pumping technologies to be more adequate than others in meeting their irrigation requirements. VI1 Operational panel is perceived to be most adequate and satisfactory amongst the panels. Financial adequacy is the least satisfactory in the hierarchy. Amongst the operational factors, water efflux, with water output, discharge rate and horse power of the pump as its constituent items, has the highest satisfaction rating. The next step down the ladder is occupied by personal ease. Along with personal ease, repairs are also perceived to be easily available, affordable and highly satisfactory. In general, perceptual variables are more important discriminators than the background variables in the relative choice of pumping technologies. Recurring costs is the most important variable differentiating between the choice of electric and diesel pumps, and the second most important variable discriminating between electric and tractor pumping systems. Electric pumps have the most favourable IPA on recurring costs. The current flat rate regime is regarded as an important motivator in the purchase and use of electric pumpsets, and the electric farmers perceive the current system as very appropriate. However, the owners of electric pump-sets have to pay 'additional costs' to lubricate and speed up the sanction and commissioning of the power supply, and to ensure speedy repairs in case of breakdowns. Electric farmers are also least satisfied with the resource availability and reliability of electric supply. The supply of electricity is unreliable, and poor in quality and quantity. Society and community discussions are valuable when purchase of tractors versus electric pumps is contemplated. In particular, tractors are perceived to be most adequate on water efflux, and thus are preferred over both the electric and diesel pumps on this parameter. Discriminant analysis results show that farmers with greater degree of confidence over their capital financing strength and better access to loans and subsidies can get motivated to purchase tractors over electric pumps. However, personal ease is the most important factor that favours the choice of tractors over diesel pump-sets. Electric pumps are preferred over diesel pumps for drawing water from greater depths, and for irrigating larger areas as their marginal costs are nil. Diesel pumps are preferred in places where smaller areas are to be irrigated and groundwater depth is lower. Fuzzy measures show similar results as that derived from a numerical approach. Visual thinkers may prefer to interpret the results by taking a mental note of the fuzzy numbers as per their personal mental maps, while non-visual thinkers may find the defuzzified or numeric results more appealing. Vlll RECOMMENDATIONS The study makes the following recommendations: Energy policy and planning, design of technological devices, and strategic intervention management should emerge from an extensive consultative process with the target groups. The consultation and feedback should generate a set of norms against which the current and future technologies can be evaluated. Consumers' perceptions should be incorporated and operational adequacy models applied to elicit information about the current technologies in vogue. After the demonstration stages of new technologies, users' perceptions about them should be evaluated, compared and ranked with that of the technologies currently deployed. An intensive thrust to propagation should be given only when the new systems are perceived better than the existing ones. The operational adequacy models leave sufficient leeway to conform to the natural styles of the decision-makers and should be resorted to at various levels of decision-making. The presentation of the results through IPAs and OAMs, as fuzzy numbers, is naturally comfortable for the visual thinkers amongst the experts, while the defuzzified values are convenient to the non-visual thinkers. Powerful computer based tools and decision-support systems can be developed to compare the IPAs of different pumping technologies, and utilized during the formulation and implementation ofplans and policies. Amongst the pumping devices currently in operation, electric pumps are perceived to be most satisfactory and have the highest irrigation pumping adequacy measure. However, they are plagued with uncertainties associated with the quality and quantity of supply, along with the difficulties in procurement of connections. Reforms and better management of the electricity sector may bring about much needed improvements in this area. Canal irrigation should be made feasible wherever possible, as conjunctive irrigation is perceived to be more adequate than just groundwater irrigation. Since society and community also play a role, attempts for training and education should aim to influence the farmers as special groups. NGOs, community based organisations and panchayati raj institutions may be involved in the programmes. Finally, the study recommends that future developments of pumping devices must consciously incorporate the role of ergonomics, which can play avaluable part in designing systems that are easy to handle and operate, and are also aesthetically appealing.
Other Identifiers: Ph.D
Appears in Collections:DOCTORAL THESES (HSS)

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