Volume 12, Number 46 (fall 2009)                   JCPP 2009, 12(46): 417-432 | Back to browse issues page


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Rouhani N, Yang H, Amin Sichani S, Afyuni M, Mousavi S, Kamgar Haghighi A. Assessment of Food Products and Virtual Water Trade as Related to Available Water Resources in Iran. JCPP. 2009; 12 (46) :417-432
URL: http://jcpp.iut.ac.ir/article-1-1133-en.html

, afyuni@cc.iut.ac.ir
Abstract:   (19086 Views)
Iran, with an average annual precipitation of about 252 mm (413 BCM) and renewable freshwater resources of 130 BCM, has irregular distribution of water resources. With a high population growth rate, agriculture remains the greatest water user in Iran but its production still does not meet the total food demand of the country. Due to unreliable water availability, the competition for water from other sectors and the increasing demand for food and better diets, Iran will experience water stress. In this study, virtual water trade in relation to water resources availability has been assessed as a way of relaxing water stress in Iran. The results showed that from the 21 food products, cereals, pulses, nuts and oilseeds are water-intensive crops according to their estimated virtual water content, while fruits, vegetables and industrial crops are not water-intensive. Considering the volume of virtual water entering the country through food imports, more water will be available for other essential uses. However, the virtual water trade has been developed rather unconsciously regarding water use and crop water productivity during the past two decades. For instance, wheat with a share of 58.5% in the virtual water import to Iran, was the dominant imported crop during 1983-2003. By importing 10.4 Mt of wheat, 11.6 BCM of water has been saved within the country during 1999-2003. However, Iran became self-sufficient in wheat production in early 2005. Consequently, this latest drive for self-sufficiency in the production of wheat, as a water-intensive crop, put tremendous pressure on domestic water resources. The trend in crop trade in terms of quantity and virtual water for other groups of crops has also been shown in the study. Seemingly, crop production and import have been greatly influenced by the weather conditions. With the increasing water scarcity, the role of virtual water in food security is expected to rise continuously in Iran. Thus, conscious virtual water trade as a policy measure in water management and judicious adjustment in agricultural structure will ensure sustainable food security and water availability in Iran.
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Type of Study: Research | Subject: General

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