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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 Sep 2018

Research article | 17 Sep 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Assessment of food trade impacts on water, food, and land security in the MENA region

Sang-Hyun Lee1, Rabi H. Mohtar2, and Seung-Hwan Yoo3 Sang-Hyun Lee et al.
  • 1Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), Motoyama 457-4, Kamigamo, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8047, Japan
  • 2Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA and Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
  • 3Department of Rural and Bio-systems Engineering, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Republic of Korea

Abstract. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has the largest water deficit in the world. It also has the least food self-sufficiency. Increasing food imports and decreasing domestic food production can contribute to water savings and hence to increased water security. However, increased domestic food production is a better way to achieve food security, even if irrigation demands increase in accordance to projected climate changes. Accordingly, the trade-off between food security and the savings of water and land through food trade is considered as a significant factor for resource management, especially in the MENA. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analyze the impact of food trade on food security and water-land savings in the MENA region. We concluded that the MENA region saved significant amounts of national water and land based on the import of four major crops, namely, barley, maize, rice, and wheat, within the period from 2000 to 2012, even if the food self-sufficiency is still at a low level. For example, Egypt imported 8.3 million ton/year of wheat that led to 7.5 billion m3 of irrigation water and 1.3 million ha of land savings. In addition, we estimated the virtual water trade (VWT) that refers to the trade of water embedded in food products and analyzed the structure of VWT in the MENA region using degree and eigenvector centralities. The study revealed that the MENA region focused more on increasing the volume of virtual water imported during the period 2006–2012, yet little attention was paid on the expansion of connections with country exporters based on the VWT network analysis.

Sang-Hyun Lee et al.
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Sang-Hyun Lee et al.
Sang-Hyun Lee et al.
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Short summary
In the MENA region, 1 ton of food could have different meaning from others countries in terms of water and land use. The first step of collaborating food policy and resources management could be started from the quantification of impacts of food trade on resources. Therefore, this study quantified the water and land savings through food import in the MENA region, In addition, we quantified virtual water import which indicate embedded water in food production and analyzed its vulnerability.
In the MENA region, 1 ton of food could have different meaning from others countries in terms of...