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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

‘Gaza doctor’ Izzeldin Abuelaish visits UFS
2011-10-03

 

Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish

Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Palestinian doctor who became the centre of a media firestorm in January 2009 when three of his daughters were killed and members of his family injured in an attack on Gaza, will be visiting our Bloemfontein Campus in October 2011. Dr Abuelaish, author of the bestselling I shall not hate: a Gaza doctor’s journey on the road to peace and human dignity, will be presenting two public lectures on 17 and 18 October 2011. He will be visiting the university at the invitation of Prof. Jonathan Jansen and will be hosted by the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.

Dr Abuelaish, currently Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. He founded the Foundation “Daughters for Life” (www.daughtersforlife.com). During his visit, he will lead group discussions by using his personal biography to explain his commitment to the transformational value of a commitment to peace and human dignity. Dr Abuelaish will also be meeting with members of the medical fraternity and the Faculties of Education and the Humanities to discuss his foundation and its role in promoting women’s education.  
 
For more information on Dr Abuelaish’s visit, please contact Prof. Jaqueline du Toit at DuToitJS@ufs.ac.za or Prof. André Keet on 051 401 9808.

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