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20 July 2018 Photo Leonie Bolleurs
Research informs about sustainable use of fresh water for food production
Conducting research on the topic of water-footprint assessment, are from the left: Dr Enoch Owusu-Sekyere, Dr Henry Jordaan, study leader and Senior Lecturer in the UFS Department of Agricultural Economics, Dr Frikkie Maré (Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics), and Adetoso Adetoro.

The fact that South Africa is a water-scarce country has been highlighted during the past couple of years, and even city dwellers were suddenly very aware of the drought due to the strict water restrictions. These are the words of Dr Frikkie Maré, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS) and one of the graduates who received his PhD on water-footprint assessment studies at the recent June 2018 graduations.

The department is currently involved in various water-footprint and water-management research projects which assist in providing solutions for better water management in the future. “As department, we want to be at the forefront of research that will assist all agricultural producers with sustainable production practices to ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainable food and fibre products for the society at large,” said Dr Maré.

Research funded by Water Research Commission

The UFS recently conferred two PhD degrees (Drs Enoch Owusu-Sekyere and Frikkie Maré) and one master’s degree (Adetoso Adetoro) in the Department of Agricultural Economics. All three have been working in the field of water-footprint assessment. The research formed part of two different projects that were initiated and funded by the Water Research Commission.

According to Dr Henry Jordaan, Senior Lecturer in this department, four of his students already received their master’s degrees on the topic of water-footprint assessment, while two students are busy with PhDs and three more are working on their master’s degrees.

Topic gains momentum in research community
The water-footprint concept serves as a useful indicator to sensitise society about the impact of the food we eat on scarce freshwater resources – from agricultural producers using water to produce primary food crops and products on the farm, to the end consumer buying the food products in the retail store in town.

“Water-footprint assessment is a relatively new field aimed at informing the sustainable use of fresh water for food production. This topic is gaining momentum in the research community, given the substantial increase in the global population in the context of freshwater resources that is getting increasingly scarce. The challenge is to feed the growing population while still using the scarce freshwater resources sustainably.

Volume of water used to produce food

“In order to inform water users on how to use the resource sustainably, it is important to know the volume of water that was used to produce the required food products. Through our research, we are contributing to this knowledge by assessing the volume of water that was used to produce selected products, and to interpret the water use in the context of water availability to gain insight into the degree of sustainability with which the resource is used. The results are expected to inform water users, water managers, and policy makers regarding the sustainable use of fresh water for food production,” said Dr Jordaan.

News Archive

Photo manipulation in journalism: evil, crutch or lifebuoy?
2017-09-04

Description: Albe Grobbelaar Tags: Photo manipulation, Albe Grobbelaar, Albe, OJ Simpson, journalism, Department of Communication Science, Communication Science   

Albe Grobbelaar, veteran journalist and lecturer in the
Department of Communication Science at the UFS.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin


Since the 1800s the manipulation of photographs has been common practice, and who can forget the OJ Simpson Time magazine cover in 1994? Albe Grobbelaar, lecturer in the Department of Communication Science at the University of the Free State (UFS), asked in a special lecture on 18 August 2017 whether “Photo manipulation in Journalism” was an evil habit, a crutch or a lifebuoy.

“As a journalist I have always been interested in photography. And the principle of photo manipulation or tampering with photos, as we call it, is something that has interested me ever since,” Grobbelaar said. Photo manipulation is an area that has garnered many academic interest and is not a new trend but a practice that started in the 1830s when photos came into popular use. “It is not always done with ulterior motives, artists played with photographs to get unique effects.” Photo manipulation is not only to create fake news, but is sometimes used to convey novelty and create shock to news readers. 

Different viewpoints for different circumstances
He talked about the spectrum of viewpoints on photo manipulation. Some conservative journalism schools say photos should never be retouched while other feel it is fine to tamper with pictures. “What I tried to convey in the lecture was that one should consider different circumstances differently,” Grobbelaar said. As a journalist he believes that news photos should never be manipulated.

He mentioned the example of the mugshot of OJ Simpson that the Los Angeles Police Department released to the media. “Newsweek and Time both used the photo on their front pages, but Time deliberately darkened the picture so that OJ, a black man, would appear more sinister,” Grobbelaar said. It is, however, common practice in the fashion industry to retouch images that are used in fashion magazines. 

Use own judgment to validate photos
In the age of social media it has become easy to manipulate photos and which has been labelled fake news. “I would advise people to use their own judgment when validating the authenticity of photos,” Grobbelaar said. It is important to verify whether they are from a reliable news outlet.

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