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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

Open Day attracts thousands
2012-05-02

 

Campus was abuzz with prospective students and their parents finding out what Kovsies has to offer.
Photo: Kaleidoscope Studios
1 May 2012

“It is easier to pass Grade 12 today because we don’t have a standard. However, at the University of the Free State, standards are important.”

This was Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS’ message when he addressed a packed Callie Human Centre on the Bloemfontein Campus during this year’s Open Day.

“This university is the jewel of the country. Here at Kovsies we take academic standards seriously. You must know who you are in a place where academic standards are extremely important. Anyone can obtain a degree, but here you can get more than a degree. You get an education,” he said to the more than 5 000 learners and parents from across the country.

“It is not only important that you study here in South Africa, but also in other countries. That is why our students study all over the world. You must think out of your comfort zone, have a big heart, achieve great heights and show everyone that you are a Kovsie.

But, it is not all about studying – it is also about being human and reaching out to others. When you come to this university, you will also do other things that will make you proud of being a Kovsie.

Quality looks for quality. Therefore, work hard and study hard because you need to be at a good university,” he said.

The programme consisted of, among others, a spectacular laser show, a performance by Bobby van Jaarsveld and special messages from DW Bester and Sannah Mokone, Rhodes Scholars currently studying at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

In a pre-recorded message DW, a Ph.D. student in Mathematical Statistics, encouraged prospective students to work hard and persevere. Sannah, doing a Master’s degree in African Studies, said she believes in the future of the African continent. “I believe in our future students and know you can make it.”

Prof. Jansen also introduced some of the university’s recent student achievers such as Jurie Swart, regional winner of the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award; Farzana Samuel, named by the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS) as the most outstanding student in quantity surveying for 2012; and Sibusiso Tshabalala, one of Google’s Top 10 Young Minds.

Richard Chemaly, President of the Central Student Representative Council (CSRC), said that, by coming to Kovsies, prospective students would become the best person they can be. “We have over 70 student organisations to help you take part in student life activities. So, make use of these opportunities,” he said.

The programme concluded with an introduction to the seven faculties by the respective deans.

The estimated 7 000 prospective students and their parents also had the opportunity to visit faculties and the stalls of residences.
 

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