Water footprint in Agriculture
If the world is to reduce its use of water, the most obvious area in which to look for savings is where most water goes: agriculture. How much water this accounts for varies enormously from country to country. Insight in the ‘hidden water use’ has created awareness for the fact that a lot of goods are imported from areas with water-stressed catchments.
Many countries are importers of embedded or “virtual” water (that consumed in producing any crop or product). In Egypt it is about 84%, and in India as much as 90%. It is known as a global water “footprint”—a concept developed by Arjen Hoekstra, a Dutch scientist—including not just the direct uses of water in agriculture, but the indirect ones all the way along the chain from field to fork, agriculture accounts for 92%. Professor Hoekstra invented the concept of the Water Footprint that introduced a complete novel thinking on the real water use that is needed to make our daily products. We must credit this discussion by Professor Hoekstra whose work on the Water Footprint method shows the ´hidden water use´ of products. Hoekstra´s method to calculate the overall water use of a product, reveals that it takes about 3,000 L to produce one 200 g steak, 3,400 L for a 200 g chocolate bar and 2,700 L to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt.