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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

CED holds Family Math and Science summit
2009-10-06

 

At the summit were, from the left: Ms Lorraine Botha(CED); Susan Koen (Coordinator: Frances Baard, Northern Cape); Prof Daniella Coetzee-Manning (Director: CED); Elizna Prinsloo (Project Coordinator: CED); Magriet Fourie (Coordinator: Qwa-Qwa); Anne-Marie Lochner (Coordinator: Namakwa).
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe
 

The Centre for Education Development (CED) at the University of the Free State launched its Family Math & Family Science roll-out initiative in the Free State and Northern Cape Province at the beginning of 2009. As part of the quality assurance process, a Family Math & Family Science Summit was recently held at the CED to reflect upon the roll-out strategy during 2009. Delegates as far as Qwaqwa in the Free State and De Aar and Springbok in the Northern Cape province, sponsors and other role-players attended the summit to share information regarding the impact and best practices of the roll-out strategy.

The mission of the project is to demystify Math and Science for learners in the early school years by raising their levels of understanding and changing their attitudes towards Sciences and Mathematics. This is done by exposing learners to Family Math & Family Science activities on a regular basis in the classroom and integrating the activities into the curriculum.

A total number of 5112 learners from predominately rural communities in the Free State and Northern Cape provinces were actively involved in doing Math and Science activities during the first 3 terms of 2009. To achieve this, the CED trained 9 Subject Advisors to act as coordinators in their respective regions with the responsibility of training and supporting local teachers in the implementation of the progamme. One of the key elements of the success of the project is the fact that the CED also manufactures and issues the 134 participating teachers with sufficient training material like manipulatives and other activity material to be utilized in the classroom. Without the support of the sponsors, ABSA and SANRAL, the latter would not have been possible.

It is envisaged to include as many schools as possible in the Free State and Northern Cape province in the programme, depending on sponsorships received.

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