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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

Three more Kovsie staff members involved in Olympic Games
2012-05-30

 

Dr Derik Coetzee
Photo: Supplied
30 May 2012

The South African men’s hockey team will practice on our Bloemfontein Campus from 28 May to 8 June 2012, and the team count on the assistance of three Kovsies to prepare them for the Olympic Games taking place in London later this year.  

Dr Derik Coetzee, senior lecturer in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science and Head of our High Performance Centre, has been appointed conditioning coach of the team. He will be assisted by Colleen Jones and Riaan Schoeman, also from this department.

The UFS team and Mr Gregg Clark, the team’s coach, will work out a periodisation programme for the team, which will continue until the hockey finals at the Olympic Games. The programme includes the correct exercises, volume, intensity and number of exercise sessions per week.

This is not the first time that Dr Coetzee has assisted sports teams to prepare for important events. In 2007, he was the conditioning coach of the Springbok rugby team that won the World Cup in France. He was also the conditioning coach of the under-21 Springbok team in 2002 that won the Junior World Cup Tournament. 

Dr Coetzee says it is a challenge to ensure that the team performs well at the Olympic Games. “The joy on the faces of the coach and players when they qualified in Japan cannot be described because many people thought they would not qualify.”

With the addition of Dr Coetzee, Ms Jones and Mr Schoeman, a total of six staff members from the UFS will be involved with the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. The other three are:

  • Dr Louis Holtzhausen, Head of the university’s Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, has been selected as team doctor for the more than 300 athletes that will represent South Africa at this year’s Olympic Games (in London).
  • Ms Ebeth Grobbelaar, Assistant Director of the South African Testing Laboratory for Prohibited Substances at the UFS, was invited to be involved in the Drugs Control Centre in the unit against prohibited substances which will test sportsmen and -women during the games.
  • Ms Hetsie Veitch, Head of the Unit for Students with Disabilities, has been invited to be a member of the Classification Panel at the final USA Paralympic athletics trials.

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