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Virtual water trade and water footprint accounting of Saffron production in Iran

Bazrafshan, Ommolbanin, Ramezani Etedali, Hadi, Gerkani Nezhad Moshizi, Zahra, Shamili, Mansoureh
Agricultural water management 2019 v.213 pp. 368-374
cultivation area, freshwater, greywater, issues and policy, saffron, trade, virtual water, water resources, water use efficiency, Azerbaijan, Iran
The virtual water concept has a considerable potential to help improve the productivity of limited fresh water resources especially in the agriculture sector. Iran is the biggest producer and exporter of Saffron in the world. This research explores the average magnitude and share of water footprint components, including the green, blue, grey and white water footprints over the period of 2008–2014 in the provincial and national levels. The average water footprint of the Saffron production in Iran was 4659 m3 kg−1. The share of green, blue, white, and grey water footprints are estimated as 12, 42, 40, and 6 percent, respectively. The total water footprint of Saffron production was around 1541 MCM yr−1 that the share of exported virtual water was 1354.6 MCM yr−1. The average economic water footprint of Saffron production is 3.1 m3 per $. Lorestan, East Azerbaijan and Isfahan have the lowest economical water footprint while Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Semnan and Fars have the highest values. The results of this research provide valuable information for managers and policy makers to extend the cultivation area in regions with low economical water footprint and also the regions with rain-fed cropping and sufficient precipitation. In contrast, increasing yield and water use efficiency in regions with high economical water footprint is very necessary.