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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

Reitz colleagues start their own company
2014-07-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) and the five colleagues implicated in the Reitz incident of 2008 reached the final chapter in the reparation process in restoring the dignity of these colleagues on Thursday 19 June 2014.

Mr Mothibedi Molete and Mss Mankoe Naomi Phororo, Emmah Koko, Nkgapeng Adams and Sebuasengwe Mittah Ntlatseng, former cleaning staff at the UFS, are now the directors of their own cleaning company, Mamello Trading.

Furthering on its promise to assist the new-found company, the UFS has also appointed Mamello Trading as a service provider responsible for services at its South Campus.

It has been six years since the Reitz incident at the UFS and Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations, described the journey of the past six years as a learning experience for all the stakeholders.

“This journey continues as there is still work to be done, but every milestone achieved, deserves a celebration like today’s,” Dr Makhetha said.

In 2010 the UFS signed a deed of settlement with the colleagues which committed the UFS to help them establish a cleaning company. This was followed by a reconciliation ceremony in 2011.

In 2012 the UFS assisted with the registration of the company Mamello Trading.

Dr Makhetha explained that in 2013 the UFS assisted in training the new directors and mentoring them for 12 months. 

Earlier this year, Mamello Trading signed a cleaning contract of four years with the UFS. Three of the directors’ daughters also received bursaries and are currently studying at the UFS.

Advocate Mohamed Ameermia, Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, congratulated the management of the UFS on the reparation and reconciliation process they followed in restoring the dignity of the five colleagues.

The directors of Mamello Trading each had a special message of their journey and thanks. Their messages were as follows:

Rebecca Adams – After the video was exposed, I was hurt and was psychologically affected. By offering their apologies to us, the four students indicated that what they had done was a mistake. As a parent, when a child apologises you must accept that apology.
Emma Koko – I was shocked after the video was shown in public. I had a mother-child-like relationship with one of the students and that video tarnished my image as a human being. During the time of reconciliation these students showed remorse for what they had done.
David Molete – I was devastated, hurt and fearful to meet people. I ended up at a psychiatric hospital and attended counseling services which helped me to heal. The students apologised and I accepted because they were sincere.
Mittah Ntlaseng – The video impacted negatively on my dignity. The UFS assisted us with visits to psychologists. Now I feel I am a business owner and it is an opportunity for me to rebuild my self-esteem. 

Naomi Phororo – Mamello Trading is a business venture which is going to bring changes to our lives and families. The training I have received has enabled me to know how to manage the business.

 

Issued by: Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27(0)51 401 2584
Fax: +27(0)51 444 6393
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

  

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