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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

Meeting between Prof. Jansen and Mr Julius Malema conducted in a positive spirit
2009-10-31

This morning, Thursday, 29 October 2009, the senior leadership of the University of the Free State (UFS) hosted a meeting with the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) as well as SASCO leadership. The delegation was led by Mr Julius Malema, President of the ANCYL.

In a spirit of mutual respect, the two parties outlined their positions on the Reitz matter and the decision of the university management to invite the students back for purposes of learning. President Malema supported the principle of opening the doors of learning but made concrete and useful proposals on how this could be done and, especially, the importance of corrective measures that ensured full integration of the students into the university.

President Malema encouraged the management’s decision to meet with the five workers to hear their representations on a way forward for the university and to address the working conditions of the members of staff.

Both parties agreed that the independent processes led by the Human Rights Commission were critical in building a sense of conciliation and integration for both the workers and the students, and that the university was and should remain a stakeholder in this process.

The delegation also recognised that the university would be continuing its own processes of further consultations, and recommended that the process be opened up to enable all constituencies to bring their own concerns about racial difficulties to an open and safe forum.

“I very much appreciate the positive spirit in which the meeting was conducted, and the clear leadership and constructive proposals offered by President Malema,” said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.

“It is open and frank discussions like these that will take both the campus and the country forward in addressing the twin imperatives of racial reconciliation and social justice in South Africa,” said Prof. Jansen.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
29 October 2009

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