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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

Education dialogue opens engagement on legacy of OR Tambo
2017-10-05

Description: Dialogue  Tags: OR Tambo, education, future, students, Africa, activism 

Pali Lehohla, outgoing Statistician-General speaking at the
Centennial celebration of Oliver Tambo.
Photo: Supplied


To celebrate Oliver Reginald Tambo’s centennial year, the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, in partnership with the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Francis Petersen, and Absa Bank, hosted an interactive dialogue session, titled “Educating Africa’s Future” on 26 September 2017 on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Students encouraged to take charge of their future
The event opened up dialogue on some of the current burning issues that affect students in South Africa, societal challenges such as poverty and crime, and how leaders such as Tambo envisaged a free Africa. Prof Petersen highlighted the role that universities played in developing society, in creating leaders and crafting the path to transformation. Other speakers included Pali Lehohla, outgoing Statistician-General, Linda Vilakazi, CEO of the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, Nombulelo Nxesi, CEO of Education, Training and Development Practices, Sector Education and Training Authority, Prof Peliwe Lolwana, Associate Professor at Wits University’s Centre for Researching Education and Labour, and Sikhululekile Luwaca, former UFS Student Representative Council (SRC) president.

Education may require a new approach
During the panel discussion that was facilitated by Phiwe Mathe, former UFS SRC President and media officer in the Office of the Chief Whip of the Free State Legislature. The audience raised concerns regarding the future of funding for university study, the securing of employment and possibilities, if any, of entrepreneurship. In response to some of the concerns, Pali Lehohla said the realities of family dynamics in South Africa affected the ability of students to be properly profiled and funded, according to family income, and that most importantly, the solutions to Africa’s challenges had to come from within and not without. Students’ questions gravitated towards the question of whether higher education in its current form was still valuable or whether new models of teaching that would foster inclusion and earlier economic independence would be of better value.

The legacy of OR Tambo continues to be honoured
The notion of education as a driver for the liberation of South Africa and the continent as a whole, poverty alleviation and freedom from colonial rule are some of the building blocks of the legacy of Oliver Tambo. 
Linda Vilakazi reiterated that students and student leaders would benefit from seeing the importance of using a broad-based African approach to the issues that plague them and their peers, rather than seeing their challenges outside of the continental context.  Sikhululekile Luwaca said higher education must be more accessible, and in order to drive change, students should use their education to become future employers rather than employees and change the face of the future themselves as was envisioned by other liberation leaders.
Caption: Pali Lehohla, outgoing Statistician-General speaking at the Centennial celebration of Oliver Tambo.

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