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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 a much safer place
2011-09-20

 

First-year students Chuma Nyiko (left) and Mabasa Teleni next to one of the red poles installed on our Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Amanda Tongha

Students and staff at our Bloemfontein Campus can feel even safer, with several initiatives being put in place to ensure their safety.

The stop-and-search actions of the recent past, which are being carried out at all the main gates of our Bloemfontein Campus, seem to be successful, since car theft has decreased on the campus. Mr Willie Frankim, Head of Protection Services, says the stop-and-search actions are carried out sporadically, but have a definite effect on crime at the campus. Mr Frankim says only one vehicle has been stolen in the past two months as opposed to the many more that have been stolen in the past.

The message that safety is viewed in a serious light reaches as far as our university’s parking areas and walkways, which are being patrolled by security staff. Mr Frankim says a security officer is placed in all the large parking areas, while other personnel are distributed across the entire campus, especially at key areas, such as at the library and student centre.

Our university also recently installed more than 30 red poles across the entire campus. Each of these red poles is fitted with a panic button by means of which help can be summoned. Should a student or staff member feel unsafe, all they have to do is press the button and cameras, which are installed in the vicinity, will focus on the pole and Protection Services will send assistance. Twenty five of these poles are already working and ten more still have to be activated.

Students and staff can also phone Protection Services on 051 401 2911 if they feel uncomfortable about their safety. They can use this number, for example, to ask a security officer to accompany them to their car.
 

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