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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

Agri-pedia a valuable tool for the farmer
2013-10-03

 

03 October 2013

Agri-pedia, an internet-based facility to assist the farmer in a whole array of topics, was launched at the university.

This ground-breaking new education tool was developed by die UFS in partnership with the private sector to bridge the gap between agricultural science and successful farming. Experience of more than a thousand years is pulled together in the project.

Topics vary from farm management and planning, market information, geographic information and maps, to beekeeping, flower production, the farm home and many more.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said at the Agri-pedia launch it is a myth that education only happen in schools. At Nampo he was amazed to see the level of education on farms, done by farmers. “Another myth is that education is the task of government – there is a tardiness and lack of concern.

“You don’t change schools with government, but with partnerships. Agri-pedia will not be possible without partnerships.”

The launch of Agri-pedia happened against the background that food security in the world is under threat. About 840 million people are chronically experiencing malnourishment. Included in this figure are 200 million children under the age of 15 in the developing world. By 2020 nearly 70% of people suffering malnutrition will live in sub-Sahara Africa and in South Asia.

The agricultural sector must be assisted to shift from subsistence farming to sustainable food production and economic development.

For more information, visit www.agripedia.co.za or send an email to admin@agripedia.co.za.

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