Trading in reality that is virtual : Time to rethink the exports of India?
“The third World War is at our gate, and it will be about water,” famously said Rajendra Singh, Indian water conservationist and environmentalist, in an interview. The ongoing US-China trade war, which commenced at 2018, has a whole lot to do with water although a water resource is not shared by both nations. Before the transaction war began, China imported 4.7 million tons of soybean, a water-intensive crop, by the US at 2017, and this amount fell to zero in 2018 when commerce tariffs were imposed. China also’lost’ 50,800 million minutes of’virtual water’ .
Water is defined as the water. Virtual water trade denotes the import and export of concealed water in the kind of goods such as harvest goods, fabrics, machinery and livestock – all of which need water to their own production. Historically, China has been a net importer of water. India, on the other hand, owing at risk to its excess exports, losses water and places water sustainability in the future. With all the virtual water trade, where does India stand with the looking right into a country for India?
In a current study, researchers from Anna University, Chennai, quantified the volume of virtual water trade in India. The analysis, published in the journal Groundwater for Sustainable Development, focussed on the commerce exchange of livestock products and popular harvest throughout recent years 2006-2016. The Department of Technology and Science funded the analysis. The findings can help policymakers and water managers in the nation to develop an efficient conservation plan for the available water resources by strictly monitoring the virtual water exchange of their goods being traded.
The research assessed differences and found that India exported 26,000 million litres of virtual water in an average each year. Rice was the greatest food product that is exported, followed by maize and meat.
In India, farmers rely on groundwater for rice cultivation, and a kilogram of paddy requires about 15,000 litres of water to grow. Considering that the country is also one of the very best manufacturers and exporter of beef, the digital water necessary for generating each kilogram of buffalo meat has been 5-20 times higher than that for agricultural production. The imported products with the greatest virtual water content were cashew, followed by pulses and wheat. These plants demand water for their production than rice.
Comparison between India’s Yearly export and import of virtual water (in billion litres per year) [Data Source]
In the ten years studied, India exported virtual water amounting to 496.98 billion litres and imported 237.21 billion litres. However, the imports of cashews, walnuts, grapes, onions, legumes, maize, alcoholic beverages and organic rubber increased during the ten decades.
The total quantity of virtual water imported and exported, based on different goods .
Implications of climate change in the Period
Virtual water exchange is a worldwide relevant concept, considering countries around the world are currently grappling with the consequences of climate change. Groundwater depletion, irregular rainfall, natural calamities, drought and floods are leading in constrained economic ties among states. India is a nation, where river basins like the Narmada, Ganga and Indus face scarcity of water for the majority of the year. Overexploitation of water for the increased production of crops like wheat and rice contribute to an increase in the exchange of water.
The study provides some insights to invent strategies to manage groundwater sustainably as 80 percent of our agricultural activities are dependent on groundwater. In 2014-15, India exported 37.1 lakh tonnes of basmati rice for which 10 billion litres of water was used – from soil planning to post-harvest processing. Almost one-fifth of this water came from groundwater and surface water, adding to the weight on national availability.
Though food production should match the growing population, looking at water-efficient types of plants is the way forwards, say the researchers. Exporting livestock and food products that are produced using water-efficient methods could bring down the net virtual water export to the country, they argue.
The analysis also provides some pointers on how water could be saved by farmers . Effective irrigation techniques, irrigation scheduling, suitable crop selection based on climatic conditions, soil type and water availability, and using alternative sources of water for irrigation could decrease groundwater intake. Nonetheless, these exports will need to be tracked for sustainability, together with the consequences of climate change.