2001 volume 33(1) pages 79 – 95
doi:10.1068/a3352

Cite as:
Yang H, Zehnder A, 2001, "China's regional water scarcity and implications for grain supply and trade" Environment and Planning A 33(1) 79 – 95

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China's regional water scarcity and implications for grain supply and trade

Hong Yang, Alexander Zehnder

Received 11 April 2000; in revised form 15 September 2000

Abstract. In this paper we highlight the water scarcity and resource depletion in the North China Plain, the 'breadbasket' of China. A projection of water demand in the region indicates a continuous aggravation in water deficit in the coming years. Analyses of countermeasures on the supply and demand side suggest that the conventional wisdom of 'opening up new sources and economising on the use of resources' may not be an optimal way to deal with water scarcity in the region. Importing water in the form of grain should be taken as an additional measure. This 'virtual water import' option needs to be incorporated into the current regional and national agricultural development strategy in which crop structural adjustment is at the core.

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