The import and export of crops drawing on groundwater is threatening food and water security in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The international food trade accounts for approximately 11% of non-renewable groundwater use. The Middle East and North Africa are regions that rely heavily on overexploited aquifers to grow crops. Other countries are the US, Mexico, India, Pakistan and China.
A team of researchers led by Carole Dalin of University College London quantified the level of groundwater depletion linked to international exports and imports of 26 crop classes in the years 2000 and 2010.
“In particular for the Middle East and North Africa, the imports per capita are high,” says Dalin, of her research published in Nature. “Up to nearly 150m3 per capita per year [of non-renewable groundwater] are involved in Qatar’s food imports. This comes in addition to the direct water consumption in Qatar, which has been found to be one of the highest in the world."
[Photo by Jiseon Shin | Flickr]