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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

UFS hosts delegation of University of Minnesota
2008-08-13

 

 During the visit of a senior delegation of the University of Minnesota to the University of the Free State (UFS) were Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk (left), Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, and Prof. Robert Jones, Senior Vice-President: System Academic Administration at the University of Minnesota. Prof. Van Schalkwyk initiated the current cooperation agreement between the two institutions.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs
 

 UFS hosts delegation of University of Minnesota

A senior delegation from the University of Minnesota in the United States of America (USA) visited the University of the Free State (UFS) this week to explore ways of strengthening already existing ties between the two institutions.

According to Dr Aldo Stroebel, Head of Internationalisation at the UFS, teacher training, capacity building in health sciences, and student preparedness will be among the areas of co-operation that will be investigated, within the context of the Strategic Academic Cluster initiative of the UFS. Poverty reduction strategies will also be a strong focus area.

“The UFS has had a cooperation agreement with the University of Minnesota’s department of agricultural economics since 1997 and the exchange of staff has been taking place on a regular basis,” said Dr Stroebel.

This agreement will be expanded and both institutions are now exploring the possibility of applying it across faculties.

According to Dr Stroebel, the visit was very successful and both institutions have committed seed funding to formalise the cooperation agreement.


Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
13 August 2008
 

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