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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

Judge Ian van der Merwe unanimously re-elected as Chairperson of the UFS Council
2012-11-29

 
Judge Ian van der Merwe
Photo: Rian Horn
29 November 2012

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) unanimously re-elected Judge Ian van der Merwe as its Chairperson for the next three years at its last meeting for this year on Friday, 16 November 2012.

Judge Van der Merwe is a Judge of the Free State High Court. He is an alumnus of the UFS and has been a member of the Council since 9 March 2007.

In accepting his appointment, Judge Van der Merwe said that he was honoured and humbled to lead a Council of this calibre for a second term. “The Council is setting a good example of what good governance at a higher education institution should look like. Meetings are conducted in good spirit and decisions made in the best interest of the university,” he said.

“Having sat on councils of many universities before, I can say with great surety that, on balance of expertise and backgrounds, the UFS has one of the most effective councils in the country and, to have a Chairperson of Judge Van der Merwe’s stature, is a privilege. His leadership and guidance is greatly appreciated,” said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector.

Mr Edward Kieswetter, Group CEO and Executive Director of Alexander Forbes and Deputy Chairperson of the UFS Council, and Mr Jonathan Crowther (former editor of Volksblad) have been re-elected for a further term of four years in the category: "Appointed by the Council".

External Council members were given a tour of the Bloemfontein Campus after the meeting, followed by an induction session for new council members.

New Council members who joined this year are: 

Derek Foster, in the category appointed by the Council
Ruben Gouws, elected by the non-academic staff
Lorraine Kriek, elected by the Alumni
Themba Mmabi, representative of the Minister of Higher
Education and Training
Sabelo Khumalo, SRC President, Qwaqwa Campus
William Clayton, SRC President, Bloemfontein Campus
Suraya Jawodeen, representative of the Minister of Higher
Education and Training
Mr Dan Mosia, representative of the Minister of Higher Education and Training
 

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