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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

Students aim to make a difference
2012-08-12

 
Besides their work with the learners, Legendary Bethulie also wants to expose them to the rich history of Bethulie and showcase the beauty of the small town. The town had the largest concentration camp during the Anglo Boer war and it boasts the longest bridge in South Africa – the DH Steyn Bridge, a 1,2 km rail and road bridge.

A group of students has taken the initiative to educate high school learners about different careers. They travelled 180 km to Bethulie, a small town in the southern Free State, to motivate, inspire and expose learners from the Wongalethu Senior Secondary School to different career paths. This event will take place in Bethulie again at the end of the first term next year.

The event was organised by the Legendary Bethulie group, which is campaigning for a child development programme, community centre and also to develop further the annual Bethulie career exhibition. The group intends to equip children from Bethulie and nearby towns with the necessary skills to be successful in life, irrespective of their home backgrounds. The group also wants to expose them to different career paths as well as offer tutoring opportunities. It also aims to minimise the number of learners who become victims of drug abuse and HIV.

The organisation is still growing and would like to access funding from different institutions and companies as it is currently financed by the community.

Students who wish to take part in next year’s event can contact Luyanda Lunga Noto at luyanda.noto@gmail.com.
- Luyanda Noto
 

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