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Sustainable Water Use For Tobacco Production

South Africa is a water scarce country, and there is increased pressure on the scarce freshwater resource. Water footprints have emerged as a useful indicator to report water consumption associated with a product. Additionally, when interpreting water footprints in the context of water scarcity in the production regions, important judgement can be made about the sustainability with which water is used to produce the product.

This study aimed to assess the water footprint of tobacco in a key tobacco production region in South Africa, and to assess the water scarcity situation in that region to allow for judgment of the sustainability with which water is used to produce tobacco in that region. The results show that 1551 m3of water is used to produce one ton of tobacco, of which about 60% is sourced from effective rainfall. The remaining 40% is met through supplementary irrigation.

The period when tobacco requires most water corresponds with the period where the blue water scarcity index is less than 100%, suggesting that tobacco production in that particular region is sustainable from a water use perspective. 

South Africa

Author(s): Jordaan H. (1), Motaung NN. (1)

Organization(s): University of the Free State (1)