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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

Weideman focuses on misconceptions with regard to survival of Afrikaans
2006-05-19

From the left are Prof Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector: Academic Planning), Prof Gerhardt de Klerk (Dean: Faculty of the Humanities), George Weideman and Prof Bernard  Odendaal (acting head of the UFS  Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French). 
Photo (Stephen Collett):

Weideman focuses on misconceptions with regard to survival of Afrikaans

On the survival of a language a persistent and widespread misconception exists that a “language will survive as long as people speak the language”. This argument ignores the higher functions of a language and leaves no room for the personal and historic meaning of a language, said the writer George Weideman.

He delivered the D.F. Malherbe Memorial Lecture organised by the Department Afrikaans at the University of the Free State (UFS). Dr. Weideman is a retired lecturer and now full-time writer. In his lecture on the writer’s role and responsibility with regard to language, he also focused on the language debate at the University of Stellenbosch (US).

He said the “as-long-as-it-is spoken” misconception ignores the characteristics and growth of literature and other cultural phenomena. Constitutional protection is also not a guarantee. It will not stop a language of being reduced to a colloquial language in which the non-standard form will be elevated to the norm. A language only grows when it standard form is enriched by non-standard forms; not when its standard form withers. The growth or deterioration of a language is seen in the growth or decline in its use in higher functions. The less functions a language has, the smaller its chance to survive.

He said Afrikaans speaking people are credulous and have misplaced trust. It shows in their uncritical attitude with regard to the shifts in university policies, university management and teaching practices. Afrikaners have this credulity perhaps because they were spoilt by white supremacy, or because the political liberation process did not free them from a naïve and slavish trust in government.

If we accept that a university is a kind of barometer for the position of a language, then the institutionalised second placing of Afrikaans at most tertiary institutions is not a good sign for the language, he said.

An additional problem is the multiplying effect with, for instance, education students. If there is no need for Afrikaans in schools, there will also be no  need for Afrikaans at universities, and visa versa.

The tolerance factor of Afrikaans speaking people is for some reasons remarkably high with regard to other languages – and more specifically English. With many Afrikaans speaking people in the post-apartheid era it can be ascribed to their guilt about Afrikaans. With some coloured and mostly black Afrikaans speaking people it can be ascribed to the continued rejection of Afrikaans because of its negative connotation with apartheid – even when Afrikaans is the home language of a large segment of the previously oppressed population.

He said no one disputes the fact that universities play a changing role in a transformed society. The principle of “friendliness” towards other languages does not apply the other way round. It is general knowledge that Afrikaans is, besides isiZulu and isiXhosa, the language most spoken by South Africans.

It is typical of an imperialistic approach that the campaigners for a language will be accused of emotional involvement, of sentimentality, of longing for bygone days, of an unwillingness to focus on the future, he said.

He said whoever ignores the emotional aspect of a language, knows nothing about a language. To ignore the emotional connection with a language, leads to another misconception: That the world will be a better place without conflict if the so-called “small languages” disappear because “nationalism” and “language nationalism” often move closely together. This is one of the main reasons why Afrikaans speaking people are still very passive with regard to the Anglicising process: They are not “immune” to the broad influence that promotes English.

It is left to those who use Afrikaans to fight for the language. This must not take place in isolation. Writers and publishers must find more ways to promote Afrikaans.

Some universities took the road to Anglicision: the US and University of Pretoria need to be referred to, while there is still a future for Afrikaans at the Northwest University and the UFS with its parallel-medium policies. Continued debate is necessary.

It is unpreventable that the protest over what is happening to Afrikaans and the broad Afrikaans speaking community must take on a stronger form, he said.

 

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