Assessment of Main Cereal Crop Trade Impacts on Water and Land Security in Iraq

Document identifier:
Access full text here:10.3390/agronomy10010098
Keyword: Engineering and Technology, Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Teknik och teknologier, Samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Geoteknik, Cereal crops, Virtual water trade, Footprint, Iraq, Soil Mechanics
Publication year: 2020
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 6 Clean water and sanitationSDG 2 Zero hunger
The SDG label(s) above have been assigned by


Growing populations, socio-economic development, the pollution of rivers, and the withdrawal of fresh water are all signs of increasing water scarcity, and with 85% of global use, agriculture is the biggest freshwater user. The water footprint (WF) and virtual water (VW) are concepts used recently for freshwater resources assessment. The WF reflects how much, when and where the water was used whereas VW reveals the volume of water embedded in goods when traded. The first goal of this research is to determine the WF per ton and the WF of production (Mm3/yr) of wheat, barley, rice, and maize in Iraq. The second goal is estimating the quantities of the 4 main cereal crops imported into Iraq and assessing the impact on reducing WF and land savings for 10 years from 2007 to 2016. The results showed that the WF per ton was 1736, 1769, 3694, 2238 m3/ton and the WF of production was 5271, 1475, 997, 820 Mm3/yr for wheat, barley, rice, and maize, respectively. The median total VW imported was 4408 Mm3/yr, the largest volume was 3478 Mm3/yr from wheat, and Iraq saved about 2676 Mm3 of irrigated water and 1,239,539 M ha of land by importing crops every year during 2007–2016. The study revealed the significance of better irrigation management methods to decrease the WF through a selection of crops that need less water and cultivation in rain-fed areas, as well as the use of cereal import to conserve scarce water resources, which is crucial both in terms of water resource management and preservation of the environment. The results of this research could be used as a guideline for better water management practices in Iraq and can provide helpful data for both stakeholders and policymakers.


Salam Hussein Ewaid

Technical Institute of Shatra, Southern Technical University, Basra, Iraq
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Salwan Ali Abed

College of Science, University of Al-Qadisiyah, Diwaniyah, Iraq
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Nadhir Al-Ansari

Luleå tekniska universitet; Geoteknologi
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