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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

Prof Britz heading to Yale
2013-04-22

 

Prof Dolf Britz
Photo: Supplied
22 April 2013

Prof Dolf Britz has been awarded the honour of an appointment at Yale Divinity School (YDS) at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in the United States. Starting in August 2013, Prof Britz will be involved in research initiatives and the teaching of post-graduate seminars at the university, which was founded in 1701.
The appointment is the natural progression of a collaboration agreement between the University of the Free State (UFS) and Yale University which dates back to 2009 with the formation of the Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa. The strategic partnership focuses on increasing African access to quality education and is geared towards empowering new-generation African leaders in academic and faith-based organisations with primary scholarly resources, research, education and publication.
Prof Britz’s appointment is equally exciting to the respective faculties involved at the UFS and Yale.
“We are most grateful that the generous support by the University of the Free States makes it possible for Prof Britz to be with us in this capacity,” said Prof Carolyn Sharp, Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at YDS.

Prof Adriaan Neele, the Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale and extraordinary professor at the UFS, thinks Prof Britz’s appointment can be just as beneficial to YDS students.

“Prof Britz’s keen insight in historical primary sources will be very beneficial to Yale’s students and the faculty. His appointment demonstrates the strategic nature of the academic relationship between the UFS and Yale,” he said.

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