This paper explores the implications of the transformation of the system of water resources allocation to the agricultural sector in Israel from a one in which allotments are allocated to the different users without any permission to trade with water rights. A mathematical planning model is used for the entire Israeli agricultural sector, in which an 'optimal' allocation of the water resources is found and compared to the existing one. The results of the model are used in order to gain insight into the shadow price of the different water bodies in Israel (about eight). These prices can then be used to grant property rights to the water users themselves in order to guarantee rational behavior of water use, since now one can sell their rights at the source itself. The implication is clear with regard to any possible movement towards a market system in any other sector. From the dual prices of the primal problem we can forecast the equilibrium prices and their implications for the different users. The central government does not have to interfere with the market mechanism because, as will be shown, every farmer has the option to sell his right or to use it. As participation in the market is voluntary, every farmer makes a decision that is both individually and socially rational. However, in moving from a central planning allocation to a market mechanism, the government has another task, which is to grant the property rights in order for the market to begin to evolve. It is not guaranteed that under any initial allocation a decentralization of the system will benefit all the regions but at least part of the problem is to be resolved between the regions themselves. As the results shows, there is a potential budgetary benefit of 28 million dollars when capital cost is not included and 64 million dollars when they are included.


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