Water Footprint of Cereals and Vegetables for the Beijing Market

9 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2014

See all articles by Jing Huang

Jing Huang

China Agricultural University - College of Agriculture and Biotechnology

Bradley G. Ridoutt

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - Sustainable Agriculture National Research Flagship, Animal, Food and Health Sciences

Hailin Zhang

Independent

Changchun Xu

Independent

Fu Chen

China Agricultural University - College of Agriculture and Biotechnology

Date Written: February 2014

Abstract

Beijing is situated in water‐scarce northern China, where there is a history of policies aimed at constraining local agricultural water use to meet the increasing urban water demand. This has led to a change in local crop production and subsequent effects in terms of the importation of cereals and vegetables grown in other parts of China. The dilemma is that local policies designed to improve Beijing's water resources situation may have the unintended consequence of increasing water stress in other regions. In this article, life cycle assessment approaches were used to model both consumptive and degradative water use for the major cereals and vegetables consumed in Beijing, enabling comparison of local and imported supplies. In the Beijing region, cropping cereals rather than intensive vegetables in greenhouses could reduce local blue water consumption by 7,216 cubic meters per hectare per year (m3 ha−1 yr−1) and nitrogen pollution by 45 kg ha−1 yr−1. However, depending on how the local food shortfall is balanced by imported food, shifts in cropping pattern in Beijing have the potential to cause either an improvement or exacerbation of the nationwide water stress situation (e.g., −42% to 4% for water scarcity footprint). As such, local policy making regarding agricultural land and water use needs to consider the wider food production context. This situation in Beijing is likely to be representative of the challenge facing many of the world's large and mega‐sized cities, where a sustainable means of increasing food supply must be found.

Keywords: impact assessment, industrial ecology, land‐use change, peri‐urban food production, sustainable food systems, water use

Suggested Citation

Huang, Jing and Ridoutt, Bradley G. and Zhang, Hailin and Xu, Changchun and Chen, Fu, Water Footprint of Cereals and Vegetables for the Beijing Market (February 2014). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 18, Issue 1, pp. 40-48, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2396210 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12037

Jing Huang

China Agricultural University - College of Agriculture and Biotechnology

Beijing
China

Bradley G. Ridoutt

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - Sustainable Agriculture National Research Flagship, Animal, Food and Health Sciences

Victoria
Australia

Hailin Zhang

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Changchun Xu

Independent

No Address Available

Fu Chen

China Agricultural University - College of Agriculture and Biotechnology ( email )

Beijing
China

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