Mushtaq, Shahbaz and Maraseni, Tek Narayan and Maroulis, Jerry and Hafeez, Mohsin (2009) Energy and water tradeoffs in enhancing food security: a selective international assessment. Energy Policy, 37 (9). pp. 3635-3644. ISSN 0301-4215
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Rice is the major staple food in most Asian countries. However, with rapidly growing populations, sustained high productivity and yields through improving water productivity is critically important. Increasingly complex energy–agriculture relationships require an in-depth understanding of water and energy tradeoffs. This study contributes to energy and food policies by analysing the complex energy, water and economics dynamics across a selection of major rice growing countries. The results show that tradeoffs exist between yield and energy inputs with high yield attributed to higher levels of energy input. The selected developed countries show higher energy productivity, relative to all other energy inputs, compared to the selected developing counties, owing to enhanced
mechanisation, on-farm technology and improved farm management. Among all countries, China has the highest water productivity due to water-saving irrigation practices. These practices offer opportunities for developed and developing countries to increase water productivity at the same time taking advantage of economic and energy benefits of reduced pumping. Sustained production from agriculture is vital to food security. Improved irrigation practices can offset environmental footprints in the short run but their large-scale implementation remains an issue.
In the long run, investments are needed to buffer the negative impacts of food production on the environment. Investments to boost water productivity and improved energy use efficiency in crop production are two pathways to reduce energy dependency, enhanced natural resource sustainability and ensuring future food security.
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