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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

Department of Architecture builds next generation of architects
2010-03-22

 
With Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS are René Malan en Sancha Olivier.


Since 1987 first-year architecture students have been building huts on campus annually as part of an introduction to architectural studies at the Department of Architecture at the University of the Free State (UFS).

According to Martie Bitzer, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, the students build these full-scale huts in groups of two, with responses to orientation, materials (grass, reads, earth construction – mud bricks), climate and community over a period of approximately three weeks.

On the day that the students completed their huts, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, visited the small community of 27 huts in the veld behind the Rag Farm. Here he was taken on a walk amongst the huts. He also addressed staff and students of the Department of Architecture

“I can smell excellence and goodness,” was some of Prof. Jansen’s remarks as he walked amongst the huts.

“Top students come to our Department of Architecture. Quality attracts quality. The recent achievements of this department are proof of this,” he said.

One of Kovsies final-year students, Wim Steenkamp, was named National Corobrik Architecture Student of the Year 2008. This was the second time in the past three years that a student from the UFS Department of Architecture has won this prestigious competition. The department also received unconditional accreditation from the South African Council for the Architecture Profession (SACAP) for all three courses offered, and over the past few years its students have won the Tripod Photography Competition, the National Cement and Concrete Institute Competition for honours students, and the Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation Student Prestigious Prize.

This once again confirms the prestige the department enjoys in the field of architecture in South Africa. It is also proof of the quality of staff and the programmes offered at the department.
 

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