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Evaluation of Physical and Economic Water-Saving Efficiency for Virtual Water Flows Related to Inter-Regional Crop Trade in China

by Jing Liu 1,2,3, Yu Zhang 4 and Zhongbo Yu 1,2,3,*
1
State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
2
Joint International Research Laboratory of Global Change and Water Cycle, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
3
College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
4
Marketing Department of the Business School, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4308; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114308
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 17 November 2018 / Accepted: 18 November 2018 / Published: 21 November 2018
If products were traded from regions with relatively high water productivity to regions with relatively low water productivity, water saving could be achieved. In this study, two indices—physical water-saving efficiency (volume of water savings per cubic meter of virtual water flows) and economic water-saving efficiency (value of water savings per cubic meter of virtual water flows considering water right trading)—were proposed to analyze the efficiency of inter-regional virtual water flows related to crop trade in China. Results indicated that the volume of inter-regional virtual water flows was 1.61 × 109 m3, more than 90% of which was occupied by oil-bearing crops, cereals, and beans. In terms of physical efficiency, only cereals and vegetables presented negative values. All kinds of crop trades were economically efficient, while most crops’ economic water-saving efficiency was less than 10 × 103 Yuan/m3. The application of advanced water-saving technologies, the cultivation of new crop varieties, the adjustment of regional cropping patterns, or consumption and trade patterns, could contribute to more water savings and higher physical water-saving efficiency, while the possible social, economic, and environmental tradeoffs should be considered simultaneously. Water right trading and virtual water compensation could contribute to sustainable water consumption, and full-cost pricing should be adapted in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: physical water-saving efficiency; economic water-saving efficiency; water saving; virtual water; crops; China physical water-saving efficiency; economic water-saving efficiency; water saving; virtual water; crops; China
MDPI and ACS Style

Liu, J.; Zhang, Y.; Yu, Z. Evaluation of Physical and Economic Water-Saving Efficiency for Virtual Water Flows Related to Inter-Regional Crop Trade in China. Sustainability 2018, 10, 4308.

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