Water scarcity problems are a national agenda that must be prioritized. Thailand is an agricultural country with agriculture consuming a large amount of water. Sustainable water management for the agricultural sector is urgently needed. This study assessed the impacts of water consumption by agricultural products using a water scarcity footprint (WSF) assessment. This study presents the use of the growing season available water remaining characterization factors (AWARE CFs) of specific crops, based on growth months of that crop, instead of the annual AWARE CFs of agricultural products to assess the value of this approach for an appropriate assessment of water resource and the planning of crop production priorities. The original marginal AWARE CF was considered for determining the growing season AWARE CFs of major rice, second rice, sugarcane, maize, and cassava in 25 Thai watersheds. The growing season AWARE CFs of the food crops were used to determine their WSFs for the 25 Thai watersheds. The growing season AWARE CFs of major rice, second rice, sugarcane, maize, and cassava for Thailand were 1.74, 11.5, 6.01, 3.28, and 7.96 m3 world-eq. per m3 consumed, respectively. There were statistical differences between the means of annual AWARE CFs and growing season AWARE CFs for all Thai food crops in almost all watersheds. The WSFs using growing season AWARE CFs of major rice, second rice, sugarcane, maize, and cassava were 0.05-3.66, 1.10-193, 0.51-7.99, 1.09-8.28, and 1.65-30.3 m3 world-eq. per kilogram, respectively. This work identified suitable watersheds for growing food crops and compiled them as databases for the use of zoning food crop cultivation by the Thai government. Regarding WSF values, the least suitable watershed for growing major rice, second rice, sugarcane, and cassava was the Petchaburi watershed. The least suitable watershed for growing maize was the Chao Phraya watershed.
Keywords: Agricultural product; Drought; Water consumption; Water footprint; Water scarcity footprint characterization model.
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