WIT Press

The virtual water flow of crops in semiarid Ceará, Brazil: the impacts on the state’s water resources management


Free (open access)


Volume 4 (2021), Issue 3



Page Range

231 - 242

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Sérgio Rodrigues Rocha, Ticiana De Carvalho Studart, Maria Manuela Portela, Martina Zelenakova & Rogério Soliani Studart Filho


Global markets foster economic growth, but production of traded goods also impacts water resource use. This is especially true for semiarid regions, given that increasing agricultural exports is a crucial pro-poor development strategy.  The aim of this paper is to quantify the contribution of agricultural trade in terms of virtual water flows – blue, green and grey – between the state of Ceará-Brazil and its international partners from 1997 to 2012 and to analyse its impacts in the state’s water resources policy. Essentially, all virtual water exported and imported by ceará in agricultural products came from cashew nuts and wheat, corresponding in both cases up to 72% of green water. interestingly, virtual green water has an important role in production but has been underestimated in the state’s water resources management model, which despite successful focuses exclusively on blue water. The results show that the commercial balance of the total virtual water was always negative, meaning that Ceará imported more virtual water than it exported; this outcome is aligned with its water-scarce condition.


agricultural international trade, Ceará, semiarid Brazil, virtual water, water footprint