High-efficiency water-saving irrigation in China


Image courtesy Ministry of Finance, China

Commercial approach(es) used to catalyse investment: Adoption of an innovative partnership / risk sharing model; new/innovative source of revenue; integration into project preparation process; new platform for InfraTech ecosystem

Finance approach(es) used to catalyse investment: Public-private partnership (PPP)

Key benefits: 

  • Climate mitigation 
  • Climate adaptation 
  • Enhanced social inclusion 
  • Improved infrastructure delivery and performance 
  • Capex efficiency 
  • Opex efficiency 

Scale of deployment: 

The project covers an area of 7,600 hectares of farmland and its annual water supply is 44.822 million m3, saving 21.58 million m3 of water on average annually. 

Project value: 

USD48.27 million

Current status of the project: 


The project in the Bingjian section of Yuanmou County in Yunnan Province takes the construction of a large-scale irrigation area as the carrier, and the innovation of system and mechanism as the driving force, and introduces the private sector to participate in the investment, construction, operation, and management of agricultural and water conservancy facilities. It achieves the goal of ‘tripartite win-win’:

  • The income of the farmers increases: Annually, the average water cost per hectare can be reduced from USD2,892 to USD805, and the average income per hectare can be increased by more than USD11,490.
  • Job creation: The SPV has 32 employees, including 25 local employees in Yuanmou County and six female employees, and the operation of the project is mainly carried out by local people.
  • SPV profits: It is estimated that the SPV can recover its cost in five to seven years, with an average annual rate of return of 7.95%. At the same time, a minimum rate of return of 4.95% for cooperatives is guaranteed.
  • Water savings: More than 21.58 million m3 of water can be saved every year. 

Dayu Irrigation Group Co., Ltd. developed and deployed a water network system for farmland irrigation and established a management network and service network that are digital and intelligent. The construction of the water intake project of the reservoir, the water transmission project from the reservoir to the main pipe and trunk pipe for water transfer, and water distribution project including sub-main pipes, branch pipes, and auxiliary pipes for water distribution, equipped with smart metering facilities, and drip irrigation facilities, forming an integrated ‘water network’ system from the water source to the ‘diversion, transmission, distribution, and irrigation’ of the fields in the project area. 

Image courtesy Ministry of Finance, China


By installing high-efficiency water irrigation control equipment and wireless communication equipment, the project integrated a smart water meter, electric valve, power supply system, wireless sensor, and wireless communication equipment to transmit the information to the control centre. Further data such as crop water consumption, fertiliser amount, drug amount, monitor soil moisture, weather change, safe operation of pipes, and other information is recorded and transmitted. According to the set value, alarms, and data analysis results, the system can control the on/off of the electric valve and send the information to the mobile phone terminal, which can be operated remotely by the user. 

This is a novel deployment of an existing solution. 


After this project, the private sector (Dayu Irrigation Group Co., Ltd.) has popularised and applied this technology and management mode in other places in PPP or non-PPP ways, such as in Xiangyun County of Yunnan (irrigation area of 3,330 hectares), Midu County (irrigation area of 3,270 hectares), Mile County (irrigation area of 3,330 hectares), Yongsheng County (irrigation area of 1,070 hectares), Shaya County in Xinjiang (irrigation area of 10,230 hectares), Wushan County in Gansu Province (with an irrigation area of 2,770 hectares), Huailai County in Hebei Province (with an irrigation area of 5,470 hectares), and others. 


Note: This case study and all information within was submitted by the Ministry of Finance, China in response to our global call for InfraTech case studies.

Last Updated: 19 October 2022