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Urbanization, Agricultural Water Use, and Regional and National Crop Production in China


  • Yah, Tingting
  • Wang, Jinxia
  • Huang, Jikun


The overall goal of this paper is to analyze the impacts of the urbanization on regional and national agricultural production through its impact on water use in agriculture in China. Given the historical trend of water use in agriculture and its correlation with urbanization, the change in agricultural water use due to urbanization is estimated. Then the impacts of this change on regional crop production are simulated based on the China Water Simulation Model (CWSM). Within CWSM, a positive mathematical programming (PMP) optimizes water allocation among crops and between irrigated and rainfed areas within a crop in each of ten river basins in China. The results show that water use in China has an obvious increasing trend, particularly in the industrial and domestic sectors, while the share of water use in agricultural sector has been dropping. A 1-percentage-point increase in urbanization can result in a 0.47 percentage-point decline in share of water use. Based on the model simulation, this will lead to the further decrease of irrigated areas and the increase of rainfed areas at both the national and river basin levels, particularly for water intensive crops (such as rice and wheat). Accordingly, average yields and total production will also decrease. A river basin with large production of either rice or wheat (or both) decreases more in irrigated area as urban area expands. Adaptation measures are recommended for both authorities and farmers to ensure food security, such as providing incentive for farmers to adopt water saving technology, implementing appropriate institutional and policy innovations (e.g, water use association, water pricing and water use rights).

Suggested Citation

  • Yah, Tingting & Wang, Jinxia & Huang, Jikun, 2015. "Urbanization, Agricultural Water Use, and Regional and National Crop Production in China," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211882, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae15:211882
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.211882

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. World Bank & the People’s Republic of China Development Research Center of the State Council, 2014. "Urban China : Toward Efficient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Urbanization," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 18865, September.
    2. Yang, Z.F. & Jiang, M.M. & Chen, B. & Zhou, J.B. & Chen, G.Q. & Li, S.C., 2010. "Solar emergy evaluation for Chinese economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 875-886, February.
    3. Zhang, Zhuoying & Yang, Hong & Shi, Minjun, 2011. "Analyses of water footprint of Beijing in an interregional input–output framework," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2494-2502.
    4. Ottmar Röhm & Stephan Dabbert, 2003. "Integrating Agri-Environmental Programs into Regional Production Models: An Extension of Positive Mathematical Programming," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(1), pages 254-265.
    5. Richard E. Howitt, 1995. "Positive Mathematical Programming," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 77(2), pages 329-342.
    6. Boelee, Eline, 2011. "Ecosystems for water and food security. [Background paper]," IWMI Books, Reports H044268, International Water Management Institute.
    7. John Friedmann, 2006. "Four Theses in the Study of China’s Urbanization," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(2), pages 440-451, June.
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    9. Huang, Qiuqiong & Rozelle, Scott & Wang, Jinxia & Huang, Jikun, 2009. "Water management institutional reform: A representative look at northern China," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 215-225, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kaifang Shi & Yun Chen & Bailang Yu & Tingbao Xu & Linyi Li & Chang Huang & Rui Liu & Zuoqi Chen & Jianping Wu, 2016. "Urban Expansion and Agricultural Land Loss in China: A Multiscale Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(8), pages 1-16, August.
    2. repec:eee:agiwat:v:211:y:2019:i:c:p:89-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Zhigong Peng & Baozhong Zhang & Xueliang Cai & Lei Wang, 2016. "Effects of Water Management Strategies on Water Balance in a Water Scarce Region: A Case Study in Beijing by a Holistic Model," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(8), pages 1-14, August.

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