This paper explores the impact of irrigation on India’s mixed crop-based dairy production system. It uses a four-equation recursive regression model to outline the impact of water applied under different modes (groundwater irrigation, surface water irrigation, and rainfall) on the bovine herd efficiency and dairy output. The results of the model show that rain-fed areas account for 47% of the total value of milk output, whereas area under groundwater irrigation and surface water irrigation account for 38% and 15%, respectively. Of all the different irrigation modes, groundwater irrigated areas have the most efficient bovine herd for milk production. The addition of one hectare of groundwater in an irrigated area adds around Indian Rupees (INR) 20,000 (~US $448) to the gross value of milk output of a district, which is twice the addition of one hectare of surface water in an irrigated area and five times the addition of one hectare of rainfed area. Based on the results of the model, the paper suggests that expanding well irrigation in the groundwater-abundant eastern and central tribal belt of India can yield a positive impact on milk production.
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