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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

Cohesions and Disruptions Forum
2014-07-15

 
The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the UFS and the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, in partnership with the Vryfees, co-presented an artist and academic forum on 18 July 2014.

The forum, ‘Cohesions and Disruptions: Art as a Key to Transformation’, was aptly timed to coincide with Mandela Day. This event formed part of the transformation strategy of the Vryfees arts festival, aiming to support more diversity and cross-cultural, contemporary art programmes.

“Cohesions and Disruptions is part of the new Program for Innovation in Artform Development (PIKO/PIAD),” said Adri Herbert, Director of the Vryfees. “This includes both the cross-cultural OPENLab 2014, a new Australian/South African laboratory for early and mid-career South African artists, and a partnership with the Australian based SituateArt in Festivals initiative, managed by Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart, Tasmania.”

The forum’s keynote speaker was Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin. She is a Narungga, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman from South Australia and Victoria respectively. She is well known throughout the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands and broader arts communities. Buckskin’s presentation was titled ‘Building Young Indigenous People’s Lives through Art and Culture in Remote Central Australia.’

Buckskin spoke broadly about her involvement with youngsters – often poverty stricken and sniffing petrol – in remote areas of Australia. She explained how the arts have given the youth a chance at rehabilitation and hope for the future.

After her presentation, she was joined by Dr Willy Nel, lecturer at the UFS School of Education Studies. Dr Nel completed his PhD among the Khomani San in the Kalahari. 

Other forum speakers who presented their work included:
Dr Mari Velonaki, Director of the Centre for Social Robotics at the National Institute for Experimental Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney;
Dr Nigel Helyer of Sonic Objects; Sonic Architecture, Sydney;
Bec Dean, Curator at Performance Space, Sydney;
Jesse Olivieri, co-founder of Parachutes for Ladies in Sydney; and
Cigdem Aydemir, Vryfees visual artist for 2014.

“Given the histories and present experiences of human rights violations and racial discrimination that indigenous people in Australia and South Africa are subjected to, we are particularly honoured to have Lee-Ann (Buckskin) as a guest speaker,” said Prof Andre Keet, Director of the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice. 


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