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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

Head of SA Witness Protection Programme pays UFS a visit
2010-05-04

 
Receiving the Head of the South African Witness Protection Programme are, in front: Prof. Hennie Oosthuizen, Head of the Department of Criminal and Medical Law at the UFS; back: Adv. Beatri Kruger from the UFS Unit for Children’s Rights, Ms Lani Opperman, Member of the Free State Human Trafficking Forum (FHF), Adv. John Welch, Head of the Witness Protection Programme in South Africa; and Lene van Zyl, a LLM student at the UFS who is doing her thesis on human trafficking in body parts.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


Recently Adv. Beatri Kruger from the Unit for Children’s Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) invited Adv. John Welch, Head of the Witness Protection Programme in South Africa, to address the Free State Human Trafficking Forum (FHF) on the safe-keeping of victims who are witnesses against human traffickers.

Human trafficking is prevalent in the Free State, especially in Bloemfontein. The Unit for Children’s Rights is one of the founding members of the FHF that was established to take action against and fight the disturbing reality of human trafficking more efficiently.

According to Adv. Kruger the FHF identified the problem of trafficked witnesses being threatened by human trafficker syndicates.

Adv. Welch made some suggestions with regard to the safe-keeping of trafficked victims. He also, with some of the forum members, paid a visit to the areas in Bloemfontein where human trafficking is prevalent as well as to the local shelter for trafficked victims.

Adv. Welch undertook to join forces with the FHF in assisting trafficked victims and the local Witness Protection Programme Office is now a member of the forum.

Since December 2009 members of the FHF managed to disrupt the work of the human trafficking syndicates. “The traffickers have not stopped this inhumane practice but there are indications that they have moved to other buildings in the inner city and even to houses in the suburbs. It was reported to the forum that approximately 27 males suspected of being involved in human trafficking had been arrested, and since they are illegal in the country, they were deported to their countries of origin,” said Adv. Kruger.

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