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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

Kovsies paint Bethlehem red!
2010-03-20

At the matric evening of the Secondary School Witteberg in Bethlehem were, from the left: Lebogang Motaung; Rozelle Venter; Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; Ernest Bezuidenhout; Donald Motaung; and Mr Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS.
Photo: Lynda Greyling


“The learners of the High School Witteberg are a wonderful example of the quality of students that we can expect as first years here at Kovsies next year,” Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS) said last night during a matric evening attended by 121 Grade 12 learners and their parents in a packed hall at the Secondary School Witteberg in Bethlehem.

Prof. Jansen and his wife Grace, as well as some of his colleagues were guests of honour at the event.

“We want to make a difference in the lives of our students at Kovsies and we want to ensure that our students make a difference in a divided world. This is why I want each Grade 12 learner who is here tonight to come and study at the UFS,” he told the learners and their parents.

“The UFS is going to become the university in the country that is serious about quality. We want to draw the best students. Quality entails hard work. It is about perseverance and your commitment towards your studies. That is the type of students we want.”

“My door is open to our students and they have access to come and talk to me. I also regularly sit at different places on the campus and then invite students to come and talk to me. I want our students to feel at home here.”

“I also want our students to feel free to talk about the use of language at the UFS. We love Afrikaans, English and Sesotho and are not going to fight about language. We are going to develop the use of Afrikaans so that more students can speak it – and this also goes for English and Sesotho.”

Prof. Jansen said that Kovsie students had to be balanced students. “Our students must also excel in sport, art, etc., because the development of students who are properly prepared for the workplace is what we strive for as a tertiary institution. Therefore we are going to establish an office that assists students in their career preparation and will offer students internships so that they can come into contact with leading firms in the commerce and industry sectors.”

“However, we shall also actively enhance our students’ learning experience and therefore we are going to send a group of first-year students overseas in the second semester this year to gain knowledge about issues like integration and collaboration.”

At the occasion Prof. Jansen announced that bursaries to study at the UFS in 2011 would be awarded to the two top Grade 12 learners of the school.

The Secondary School Witteberg had a 100% pass rate in the Grade 12 final examinations the past few years. In 2009 the school was seventh amongst the top 50 schools in the Free State Province. Five learners from the school were also amongst the top 20 learners in the Province last year. The school has already produced many top students for the UFS.

Mediaverklaring
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (acting)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za  
18 March 2010
 

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