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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

Major infrastructure development planned for three campuses
2014-01-06

 

DHET Sound Studio, African Languages and Humanities projects.
More students will be accommodated on our campuses, with two new residences being built on the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein Campuses respectively. The residences are part of a grant received by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

The new residences will accommodate 250 students each and the planned completion date is end of 2014.

Other major projects planned for the three campuses are a Student Life Centre on the Qwaqwa Campus, new lecture halls for the South Campus and a new sound studio on the Bloemfontein Campus. The sound studio will be erected where the old squash courts used to be.

The Department of Physical Planning stated the aim is to create a facility that can house a recording studio that will function as a multi-purpose centre where students can get practical experience in sound and visual recording. Albie Louw, Chief Officer: Property Management in the Department of Physical Planning, says the studio will have a screening room, a multi-camera recording studio, editing room, video- and audio-control room and lecture-recording studios.

The projects have different completion dates, but all fall within the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 financial years.

On the Qwaqwa Campus, the existing amphitheatre in front of the library will get a roof, so that it can be used more effectively and be more accessible. It will create a new active open space that can be utilised by students for informal study, a social space and for formal functions or promotions.

Other facilities to be upgraded include the electrical infrastructure on the Qwaqwa Campus. Disability access on the campus will also be improved.

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