Water and agriculture

Erika Zárate, Maite M. Aldaya, Daniel Chico, Markus Pahlow, Insa Flachsbarth, Gabriela Franco, Guoping Zhang, Alberto Garrido, Julio M. Kuroiwa, Julio Cesar Pascale Palhares, Diego Arévalo Uribe, Mesfin Mekonnen, Barbara Soriano, Laurens Thuy, Luis F. Castro

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Abstract

This chapter shows the strong links between water, agriculture and the economy in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC). Both green and blue water are vital for LAC's economies and for its food security. Awareness of LAC's virtual water trade volumes and water footprints alone will not solve the local or global water problems. However, the awareness gained increases the likelihood that optimized water allocation decisions, which consider the hydrological and economical aspects of water resources, are made. • Agriculture is a significant economic sector for many LAC countries with some being major world players in the agricultural commodities world markets, such is the case for Brazil and Argentina who contribute to 13% of the global green water export. At the micro level, agriculture still plays a significant role for the food security of the population. • The consumptive water use of agricultural production was on average 1,057Gm 3 / yr for the period 1996–2005; of which, 95% corresponds to the green water footprint, whereas 5% refers to the blue component. This indicates that LAC relies heavily on green water for agricultural production, i.e. rain-fed agriculture. • Maize is a fundamental crop in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru, representing 15% of the total agricultural blue and green water footprint (773,408hm 3 /yr) and contributing to 35% of the agricultural nitrogen pollution, estimated as grey water footprint, in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Only in Mexico, maize contributes 60% of the agricultural grey water footprint. • Grazing represents 24% of the total green water footprint of agriculture in these countries. The blue water consumption by the animal water supply is very significant in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru, which amounts to 13% (38,825hm 3 /yr) of the total consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater for Food Security and Well-being in Latin America and the Caribbean
Subtitle of host publicationSocial and enironmental implications for a globalized economy
EditorsBarbara A. Willaarts, Alberto Garrido, M. Ramon Llamas
Place of PublicationOxon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter7
Pages177-212
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9780415713689
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameEarthscan Studies in Water Resource Management
PublisherRoutledge

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