Scarce Water Resources and Cereal Import Dependency : The Role of Integrated Water Resources Management

This study globally analyzes the nonlinear relationship between cereal import dependency and total renewable water resources per capita by testing for potential thresholds in water resources. Data are from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and consider the years of 2002, 2007, and 2012. The results show evident ceiling effects with a threshold of 1588 m 3 /(capita/year) in the multiple predictor model. Above this value, the total renewable water resources per capita no longer have a considerable effect on cereal import dependency. Importantly, we found that if integrated water resource management improves, cereal import dependency will increase for countries with total renewable water resources per capita between 1588 m 3 /(capita/year) and 5000 m 3 /(capita/year), but not for countries below or equal to the threshold of 1588 m 3 /(capita/year). Water-scarce countries above the threshold use cereal imports as a coping strategy to save limited national water resources. This strategy might be suggested to extremely water-scarce countries below the threshold to increase their water use efficiency. Global solidarity of grain exporters with water-scarce countries is required to guarantee their food security, while water-scarce countries need to overcome their skepticism of foreign dominance through food imports.


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