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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 awarded tenders worth R22,5 million for Maths and Science teacher-training
2010-03-17

The Centre for Education Development (CED) at the University of the Free State (UFS) has received tenders worth about R22,5 million over the past two years from four provinces to train Mathematics and Science teachers from underperforming schools.

The CED has received tenders from the following provincial departments of education: Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga.

“The centre has a good reputation for the training of teachers in these disciplines and has been involved with the upgrading of Maths and Science teachers for at least 15 years,” said Prof. Daniella Coetzee, Director of the CED.

It is currently busy with the training of North West teachers after being awarded a R13,5 million tender by the Province as part of its quest to improve pass rates in Mathematics and Natural and Physical Sciences in underperforming schools.

“The tender is for the upgrading of the knowledge and methodology of teachers for Mathematics and Natural and Physical Science, as well as the upgrading of the knowledge of subject specialists in the North West Province,” said Prof. Coetzee.

For this project the centre trains 1 000 teachers and 90 subject specialists from underperforming schools over a period of three years.

The programme commenced in February this year with a baseline assessment of the teachers to determine knowledge and methodology gaps upon which to focus in the training.

“After the programme has been completed we will also do a post-assessment to see if there had been progress,” she said.

The training is offered only on Saturdays at Vryburg, Klerksdorp, Makapanstad, Brits and Zeerust and is presented by lecturers from the CED as well as selected and trained tutors from the North West province.

“We have successfully completed another Maths, Science and Technology project for the North West Department of Education. We have also completed similar projects for the Northern Cape and one for the Free State Department of Education,” she said.

These completed projects entailed formal qualifications (Advanced Certificate in Education) in Maths, Science and Technology and were worth in excess of R5 million.

The CED has just been recently awarded yet another tender in excess of R4 million over a period of two years by the Mpumalanga Department of Education.

Prof. Coetzee had the following to say about the CED being the preferred choice of these provincial Departments of Education: “It has to do with the fact that the CED has been performing well with the upgrading of teachers. It has proven itself as a leader in the in-service training of Maths and Science teachers in South Africa.”

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
17 March 2010

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