Quantifying the Water Footprint: Growing Crops Sustainably in Northwest India
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. School of Environment and Natural Resources Honors Theses; 2011
When the Green Revolution was ushered in India in the 1960s, the historically-diverse and rain-fed agricultural practices followed for millennia changed dramatically. The decline in groundwater resources across Northern India, especially from agricultural production, is a well known environmental concern and a critical one to address. There is much less awareness that the temporal and spatial distribution of freshwater across the globe is greatly affected by production chains and global exchange. This study applies the concept of water footprint analysis to compute the water demands of the process of growing two principal crops (wheat and rice) in Punjab, India. As a quantitative indicator of fresh water use, the water footprint illuminates the gap between Punjab's natural resource supply and the state's intense water demands. The dependence on aquifers to irrigate croplands has only replaced the alarming issue of food scarcity, with water scarcity, and thus, renewed concerns of famine. The water footprint of wheat and rice from planting to harvest, only represents one snapshot of the entire picture of consumptive water use. As this is only an application of footprint accounting, additional research that incorporates the production process that includes transportation, processing, and export would create a more complete assessment of water resources allocated for agriculture.
University Research Scholarship - School of ENR
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