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Evaluating the Introduction of Information Technology in the Large State-Developed Irrigation Schemes in Portugal

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 766-772 in Proceedings of the World Congress of Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources (13-15, March 2002, Iguacu Falls, Brazil)  701P0301.(doi:10.13031/2013.8409)
Authors:   L. Mira da Silva, M. Castro Neto, M. Tristany and P. Marques
Keywords:   Irrigation, Planning, Management, Software, GIS, Relational databases

A research project (SIIPRA - Integrated Information System for the Irrigation Schemes in Alentejo) is currently under development in Portugal with the objective of improving agriculture in irrigated areas in the southern part of the country. A major component of this project aims to improve planning and management in the local state-developed irrigation schemes. At the current stage of the project, this component is being developed together with one of the associations of farmers of the large irrigation schemes in the region - the Odivelas Farmers' Association. Software developed to help the technical and economical management of the irrigation scheme is supported by a Geographical Information System (GIS) and a Relational Database. It is also fully integrated with an Internet site implemented for the Association. Decision support tools have also been developed, including a framework to help land evaluation/crop suitability analysis.

The aim of this paper is to evaluate the project SIIPRA. The analysis compares the situation before and after implementation of the project. The benefits and limitations are evaluated at the farm level (Do farmers use the system? Does the system benefit them?), the Association level (Is it easier to manage the scheme? Has the system saved costs?) and the regional level (Is water used more efficiently? Has irrigation adoption increased?).

The results obtained show that the introduction of information technology can not be an aim on its own. If it does not benefit the final users, whoever they are, the effort is worthless. Moreover, the evaluation demonstrates that the outcome from information technology can be, more often than expected, different from the estimated at the initial stages of projects.

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