Multi-level determinants of crop choice to water stress in smallholder irrigation system of Central Nepal

Bhuwan Thapa, Tauhidur Rahman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Change in crop choice is a common adaptation strategy for global change. However, its drivers are not well understood. We investigate the multilevel determinants of smallholders’ crop choice in irrigated agriculture of Central Nepal. We build upon previous studies and consider four levels of determinants: households, irrigation systems, local and regional market systems, and climatic conditions. Using primary survey data of 316 farmers from 9 farmer-managed irrigation systems in the Trishuli-Narayani sub-basin of Central Nepal, among other results, we document that smallholder farmers are likely to choose rice during the monsoon season if they are experienced and farm in the irrigation systems fed by large rivers. Water stress affects the crop choice mainly in two ways. In irrigation systems fed by large rivers, farmers located towards the tail-end of the canal are less likely to plant rice due to water stress. Farmers living in the irrigation systems that are fed by small and medium-size rivers are more likely to choose less water-demanding crops. Market integration is also a key determinant of crop choice. We discuss the implications of our findings for climate-resilient adaptation strategies in Central Nepal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-592
Number of pages12
JournalClimate and Development
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • Farmer-managed irrigation systems
  • adaptation
  • crop choice
  • mountain
  • multilevel model
  • rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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