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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

Statement on protest at the UFS
2005-03-04

Following a protest by student and non-student organisations today, the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) would like to place the following facts on record:

1. There is a well-documented process underway to further transform the UFS. At the official opening of the UFS on 4 February 2005 , the Rector and Vice-chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, announced that the UFS would draft a comprehensive Transformation Plan to guide the next phase of transformation at the institution.

The UFS appeals to student formations, staff associations, trade unions and other role-players to make a constructive input into this Transformation Plan.

The UFS management has been - and always will be - willing to engage with role-players and is prepared to do so even after today’s protest.

2. There is thus no regulation or policy prescription which separates students in hostels according to race.

The reality is that students exercise their freedom of choice as to which hostel they wish to be placed in. This was agreed upon by black and white students in 1997/8.

However, the unintended consequence and practice of this hostel placement policy has been that students themselves have tended to choose to stay in hostels which have over time become black hostels and white hostels.

This is a matter of concern for the management of the UFS as such a situation does not promote interaction across language, cultural and socio-economic groupings of students.

This matter is receiving attention and an intensive consultative process, which will include students, will be launched to review this policy.

The management is convinced that such interaction will enhance the learning experience of all students and sensitise them to the reality of a multicultural South Africa and a multicultural world.

3. No student organisation has been banned from operating at any of the three campuses of the UFS.

In the past few weeks, SASCO, the Young Communist League and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) have held meetings on all three campuses, namely the Qwaqwa campus, the Vista campus and the main campus.

There are also regular interactions between top management and the leadership of SASCO and the ANCYL on campus.

In fact, the UFS upholds the right of students and staff to associate freely and to organise themselves as they see fit.

The UFS also upholds the rights of staff and students to engage in legal and peaceful protests.

The management however remains committed to discussing issues that affect staff and students in a constructive manner and appeals to student organisations in this case to engage with management.

4. The issues of registration, fees, debt and financial aid are continually monitored, and interventions to assist students are made regularly. To assist as far as possible those academically deserving students who face financial difficulties, the UFS management has put in place a structure called the Monitoring committee that includes management and student representatives.

The purpose of the Monitoring Committee is to review the cases of individual students to determine how best they can be assisted.

This applies to the Qwaqwa campus, the Vista campus and the main campus.

It is generally the case that students who perform academically will not have any difficulty in obtaining financial assistance. However, according to the requirements of National Student Financial Scheme, students who perform poorly will have difficulty in obtaining such assistance.

5. With regard to student governance, the process to institute an inclusive Central Student Representative Council (SRC), on which all three campuses will be equitably represented, was launched in July 2004, and a preliminary constitution has just been drafted. At the same time an inclusive process to review certain elements of the constitution of the main campus SRC was initiated at the end of 2004. This process, which includes all relevant student organisations and structures, is planned to produce an outcome within the next couple of months.

6. There is no policy at the UFS that is based on racism or that discriminates on the basis of the race of students and staff.

As part of the building of a new institutional culture within the broader transformation process, the UFS management is determined to eradicate all elements of racism that may occur on its campuses, and has already instituted inclusive forums on campus to discuss the issue of values and principles for a non-racial university.

Issued by: Mr Anton Fisher
Director: Strategic Communication
Cell: 072 207 8334
Tel: (051) 401-2749
4 March 2005

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