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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

OSM Camerata records CD with world-renowned cellist
2014-05-14

In 2010, South African cellist Heleen du Plessis, Executant lecturer for cello at the University of Otago, initiated the project “Cello for Africa”. The objective was to record a CD of new South African compositions for cello, reflecting the multi-cultural context of the country.

Du Plessis received an extensive research grant from the University of Otago in order to realise the project by commissioning, premièring and recording music. The aim was to facilitate a dialogue between Western and African musical traditions, as well as between the cello and indigenous African instruments.

Hans Huyssen, composer and cellist, has been closely involved in indigenous African music for a considerable time. In light of his extensive international experience, the SAMRO Foundation has granted Du Plessis' request to commission Huyssen to this task.

A world premiere concert preceded the recordings at the UFS’ Odeion School of Music (OSM) in March 2013, partially funded by a Humanities Research Grant as well as the OSM. This event provided a collaborative platform for musicians from different cultural backgrounds and several institutions to contribute towards a cultural and musical exchange. The funding enabled the project to successfully conclude in the recording of the CD, “Cello for Africa”. It was released by ODE records – the New Zealand label for classical music.

The OSM Camerata (OSMC) is the flagship ensemble of the OSM and was founded in 2012 with the main objective to kindle and forge the talents of exceptionally gifted students and pursue the highest artistic standards possible.

The OSMC participated in 2013 in the 13th International Conservatoire Festival hosted at the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatoire in St Petersburg, Russia. The OSMC received a standing ovation during their gala performance in the Glazonov Hall with a programme by South African composers Stefans Grové and Hendrik Hofmeyr.

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