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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

UFS boasts with world class research apparatus
2005-10-20

 

 

At the launch of the diffractometer were from the left Prof Steve Basson (Chairperson:  Department of Chemistry at the UFS), Prof Jannie Swarts (Unit for Physical and Macro-molecular Chemistry at the UFS Department of Chemistry), Mr Pari Antalis (from the provider of the apparatus - Bruker SA), Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean:  Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS), Prof André Roodt (head of the X-ray diffraction unit at the UFS Department of Chemistry) and Prof Teuns Verschoor (Vice-Rector:  Academic Operations at the UFS).

UFS boasts with world class research apparatus
The most advanced single crystal X-ray diffractometer in Africa has been installed in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State (UFS).

“The diffractometer provides an indispensable technique to investigate compounds for medicinal application for example in breast, prostate and related bone cancer identification and therapy, currently synthesized in the Department of Chemistry.  It also includes the area of homogeneous catalysis where new compounds for industrial application are synthesised and characterised and whereby SASOL and even the international petrochemical industry could benefit, especially in the current climate of increased oil prices,” said Prof Andrè Roodt, head of the X-ray diffraction unit at the UFS Department of Chemistry.

The installation of the Bruker Kappa APEX II single crystal diffractometer is part of an innovative programme of the UFS management to continue its competitive research and extend it further internationally.

“The diffractometer is the first milestone of the research funding programme for the Department of Chemistry and we are proud to be the first university in Africa to boast with such advanced apparatus.  We are not standing back for any other university in the world and have already received requests for research agreements from universities such as the University of Cape Town,” said Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean:  Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.

The diffractometer is capable of accurately analysing molecules in crystalline form within a few hours and obtain the precise geometry – that on a sample only the size of a grain of sugar.   It simultaneously gives the exact distance between two atoms, accurate to less than fractions of a billionth of a millimetre.

“It allows us to investigate certain processes in Bloemfontein which has been impossible in the past. We now have a technique locally by which different steps in key chemical reactions can be evaluated much more reliable, even at temperatures as low as minus 170 degrees centigrade,” said Prof Roodt.

A few years ago these analyses would have taken days or even weeks. The Department of Chemistry now has the capability to investigate chemical compounds in Bloemfontein which previously had to be shipped to other, less sophisticate sites in the RSA or overseas (for example Sweden, Russia and Canada) at significant extra costs.

Media release
Issued by:Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
19 October 2005   

 

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