Water is an essential component of human nutrition. It is advised to drink 2-3 liters of water every day. But this is just the introduction to this topic. Let me take you on a virtual tour of water called virtual water (credit: Prof Tony Allan).

There is a definite amount of water utilized by crops (plant) to give the harvest (food). For example to produce one apple; an apple tree utilizes 70 liters of water; similarly, a cup of black tea would require 28 liters of water.

When we consume foods, we are also consuming water in its virtual form. Hence, by consuming the foods with more virtual water there is economic and environmental burden on water resources. It won’t be surprising if future agricultural policies were based on the virtual water since water is an expensive natural resource.

This knowledge also helps consumers and agriculturists to choose upon the food/ crops in the interest of the nation. Virtual water for different foods is not universally constant and changes according to technology and resources. I will not go into much detail, but for your reference, to produce 1 kg of potatoes, India needs 321 liters of virtual water, UAE requires 351 liters, and France requires 150 liters. Interestingly, pulses and millets has less water footprint per ton (m3/ ton) for the proteins they produce (215 g/ kg). This gives us a hint on the rich protein source with less virtual water (less environmental and economic burden). Hence, it is possible to reduce water foot print by changing the food habits which in turn benefits the economic development of the nation.

Apart from policies, this article also gives insight and understanding to not to waste food; because in doing so, we are also saving virtual water i.e., earth’s most valuable natural resource – Water.

Author – Dr. Sandanamudi Anudeep

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