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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

Honouring Stanley Trapido – one of the most influential historians South Africa has produced
2014-08-14

 

Prof Charles van Onselen
Photo: Supplied

The International Studies Group and the History Department at the UFS hosted a seminar on Stanley Trapido by Prof Charles van Onselen on Monday 11 August 2014.

The seminar honoured the life and work of Trapido, one of the most important and influential historians South Africa has ever produced.

Trapido is probably best known for his work on the causes and consequences of the South African War of 1899–1902. It was to this broad time period that Prof Van Onselen spoke in his paper ‘The Political Economy of the South African Republic, 1881–1895’.

Prof Van Onselen’s lecture provided a major reinterpretation of the origins and causes of the Jameson Raid while emphasising that Paul Kruger’s ZAR was a state beset by crime and corruption. It was particularly fitting that Prof Van Onselen gave the inaugural seminar paper, since Trapido supervised his Oxford doctoral thesis.

The International Studies Group and the History Department were extremely honoured by Trapido’s widow, the Booker Prize nominated author Barbara, attending the seminar. They wish to thank her for donating her husband’s academic library to the UFS.

Following the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, the Trapido-couple emigrated to England. While there, Trapido began to shape what is now known as the ‘revisionist’ school of South African historiography. He argued the importance of analysing capital and class formation, which he maintained informed the racial ideologies that culminated in apartheid.

Prof Van Onselen’s inaugural seminar presentation will be followed later this term by papers from David Moore, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Giacomo Macola.

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