DMPQ- What is the concept of virtual water trade ? discuss its significance and implications in India.

. Virtual water (VW) is the water ‘embodied’ in a product, not in real sense, but in virtual sense. It refers to the water needed to produce a product. Every product has a unique water footprint defined as the total volume of fresh water used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. For eg. on an average, 3000 liters of water are required for producing 1 kg of rice.

Significance of VWT concept

Optimising domestic water use

Through imports of water intensive agriculture products, water stressed regions can optimise the use of their already scarce water resources. The water ‘saved’ through VWT can be used towards other ends such as for drinking, sanitation purpose, among others.

Conservation of water resource

Knowing the virtual water content of products creates awareness of the water volumes needed to produce the various goods, thus providing an idea of which goods impact most on the water system and where water savings could be achieved.

To achieve water security

It would direct virtual water flows from relatively wet to relatively dry regions. Net import of virtual water in a water-scarce nation can relieve the pressure on the nation’s own water resources. Virtual water can be seen as an alternative source of water.

Virtual Water Trade  in India

According to the Water Footprint Network (WFN) database, India had the lowest virtual imports of water in the world. India is a net virtual water exporter because of agricultural products.  India exported 26,000 million litres of virtual water on an average every year between 2006-2016. Rice was the highest exported food product, followed by buffalo meat and maize. As a result, the amount of water taken out of Indian rivers is way more than that goes back in through natural rainfall and melting snow.

Inter-state VWT, especially of food grains, has revealed an unsustainable pattern of water usage in certain parts of India.

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