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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 invests in community journalists
2013-12-09

The first group of journalists who completed the Department of Communication Science’s short-learning programme for community journalists. The course was developed by Mrs Willemien Marais (far left) and Mrs Margaret Linström (far right). In front in the middle are Prof Lucius Botes, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, and Mr Lumko Mtimde, CEO of the Media Development and Diversity Agency, the sponsor of the programme. Fifth from right is Ms Manana Monareng Wa Stone, Programme Manager of the MDDA.

An investment in our people, our region and our democracy. This is the value of the Department of Communication Science’s short-learning programme for community journalists.

The first 20 community journalists from radio stations and newspapers in the Free State and Northern Cape received their certificates recently after successfully completing the course Basic Journalism Skills for Community Media.

This credit-bearing short-learning programme is fully sponsored by the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), a statutory body with the aim of developing and promoting community media.

The University of the Free State (UFS) is the first university in South Africa that presents a course of this nature. “It is also the first large-scale formal training of community journalists in the Free State and Northern Cape,” says Mrs Margaret Linström, journalism lecturer in the Department of Communication Science. She developed the course together with another journalism lecturer in the Department, Mrs Willemien Marais. “What distinguishes our programme for similar programmes is the element of mentoring,” explains Marais. Students attend a week-long training session on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS. The lecturers then visit all the participating newsrooms to provide further training in terms of the unique challenges of their area. “During the second semester we’ve travelled more than 3000 km to visit radio stations and newspapers as far afield as Springbok and Phuthaditjhaba,” says Linström.

During the certificate ceremony the CEO of the MDDA, Mr Lumko Mtimde, said this partnership with the UFS has the potential to make a tangible difference in communities. “Combined community media reaches the largest target audience in the country. Against this background the importance of training community journalists becomes very clear,” says Mtimde.

The role of community journalists differ from that of journalists who work for state or commercial media. Yet most of these community journalists fall outside the network of formal training, mostly due to a lack of resources and access to training.

“This course has changed my life. I came back as a newborn baby for whom everything is new!” said Mr Setona Selisa from Naledi FM in Senekal. Selisa and his colleague, Mr Teboho Mabuya, received the award for the best participants of the 2013 course.

 

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