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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

Institute launches Human Rights Desk
2013-10-22

 

Attending the launch of the first Human Rights Desk were from left: Prof Teuns Verschoor, former Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs, Dr Leon Wessels, human rights activist and lawyer, and Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations.
Photo: Huibrecht Hoffman
22 October 2013

The university has created another beacon for social justice and reconciliation with the launch of its first Human Rights Desk (HRD) on the Bloemfontein Campus. The HRD, which falls under the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, will promote, protect and monitor human rights at the university.

Speaking at the launch of the HRD, Prof Andre Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, said the desk will investigate reported violations of human rights on campus. "It will investigate any cases that require investigation, as well as various other projects that serves the university and national and international imperatives as far as human rights is concerned.”

Prof Keet told students and staff in attendance that the desk is an expression of the university's commitment. "As a university, we have to own this particular desk, as a collective entity we should make it work and be proud of it. Our task is to build a new form of productivity into the language of rights, and build a culture of human rights among our students, which we can already see emerging."

Also speaking at the event, Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said the HRD will be a place where people can come who are hurt. He encouraged students to speak on human rights anywhere in the world. "I want you to think of yourself as a borderless human being, for human rights are not geographically confined. I want you to also hurt when somebody in a mall in Kenya gets hurt."

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