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The virtual Water flow of crops between intraregional and interregional in mainland China

YiCheng Fu, Jinyong Zhao, Chengli Wang, Wenqi Peng, Qi Wang and Chunling Zhang

Agricultural Water Management, 2018, vol. 208, issue C, 204-213

Abstract: Agriculture is the main consumer of freshwater in the world. The paper described the process of virtual water content and flow in crops. Differences in climatic conditions of different regions in China result in large differences in water consumption during crop growth. The virtual water trade in crops connects water flows within and between regions, linking the actual water consumption with the invisible water trade as a whole. The objective of the paper was supplying the agricultural products virtual water trade evaluation system, determining quantitatively the virtual water flow within the region & regional. Using meteorological and agricultural data from 2003 to 2010, a comprehensive analysis of China's domestic & international virtual water trade of agricultural products has been undertaken. The virtual water for the three primary crops and virtual water trade are discussed. The virtual water content of grain crops in northern & southern China was 1293 m3/t & 942 m3/t, respectively; the national average value was 1117 m3/t; and the regional differences in virtual water content for each crop were significant. China's inter-regional agricultural products virtual water trade was not consistent with water resource endowment expectations. The transfer of crops from northern to southern regions would have a significant impact on the sustainable utilization of water resources and would exacerbate water resources shortages in northern regions. China had a trade surplus in global virtual water trade of agricultural products. The exported agricultural products virtual water amounted to 31.5 billion m3/yr., and the imported amount was 145 billion m3/yr. The net import of virtual water embedded in agricultural products increased from 44 billion m3/yr. in 2003 to 178 billion m3/yr. in 2010. It is further concluded that the trend for agricultural products total virtual water, green water, and blue water is that China is increasing its imports year on year. A large increase in imports of agricultural products has led to a decline in the rate of self-sufficiency in domestic agricultural production. The paper provided the basis for the comprehensive evaluation of crop planting structure adjustment, grain import & export, and the potential of regional water resources development and utilization.

Keywords: Virtual water; Virtual water flow; Virtual water trade; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:208:y:2018:i:c:p:204-213