|ABSTRACT Virtual water concept evaluates the volume of water used to produce a commodity. Building on this concept, the water footprint of an individual or nation is defined as the volume of freshwater that is used in the production process of all the goods and services consumed by the individual or nation. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the water footprint of the agricultural sector in Spain in years 1998, 2001 and 2003, and to evaluate the volume and economic value of virtual water “trade” through international cereals trade in Spain in the period 1997-2005. The water footprint of agriculture accounts for more than 80% of the total water footprint of Spain. Cereals and industrial crops are the commodities with the highest weight on the agricultural water footprint. The results show the importance of considering separately both rain-fed and irrigated agricultural production and consequently, to differentiate blue and green water. Even though 85% of total agricultural land in Spain is rainfed, blue water consumption is greater than green water. Trade data show that most of Spanish crop exports are blue water intensive products while imports are generally green water intensive. Spain is a net virtual water “importer” through grain trade. Valuing blue water at its shadow price, we have obtained a first indicator of the scarcity value of water resources “exported”.
|European Association of Economists