Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
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

UFS responds on the outcome of the court case in the alleged attack by Cobus Muller and Charl Blom on Gwebu
2014-09-09

The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) acknowledges the finding issued on 4 September 2014 by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that it was “unable to find any corroborating evidence to make a conclusive finding of racism and violation of human rights” in the Muzi Gwebu case.

The university management also takes cognisance of the ruling in the Bloemfontein Regional Court by Regional Magistrate Rasheed Matthews today (9 September 2014) that both Cobus Muller and Charl Blom are found not guilty on all the charges which included reckless driving, crimen injuria, attempted murder and assault (Muller), and a charge of assault (Blom). We note the Magistrate’s concerns about “inconsistencies in the evidence and exaggerations”, that the complainant “displayed hostility throughout the trial” and that he was “not a reliable witness and is prejudiced.” And therefore, in the words of the Magistrate to the defendants, “I’ve decided to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

Both Muller and Blom were suspended from all campuses of the UFS on 19 February 2014 based on the evidence available at the time of reckless driving, assault and other charges. This evidence was further borne out by an internal investigation into the incident of 17 February 2014 on the Bloemfontein Campus. In the light of the evidence available to us at the time, and the volatile situation on campus in the days following the attack, the UFS management believes that it was the correct decision to suspend the students, given the serious nature of the charges, and pending a decision of the courts.

In the light of both the SAHRC ruling as the Regional Court ruling, the university management has decided to take the following steps:

1.    The suspensions of both Muller and Blom from all campuses of the university are lifted with immediate effect.

2.    Muller may attend a forthcoming graduation ceremony during which the degree BSc Construction Management will be officially conferred upon him. He completed all the requirements for the degree in 2013, but was not allowed to attend the graduation ceremony of 11 April 2014 due to his suspension and the fact that the criminal charges were still pending.

3.    Blom may return to the university to complete his studies.

4.    The UFS is in discussion with the parents of one of the students and, if required, would also meet with legal counsel of the university, as well as those of students Muller and Blom to discuss any further steps given the outcome of the court case.

5.    In short, on grounds of the ruling by die SAHRC, as well as the Bloemfontein Regional Court, the university will not continue with its disciplinary action against Muller and Blom.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS said: “This has been a very difficult time for the university and I am pleased to record that throughout the crisis, the student body on the Bloemfontein Campus showed remarkable restraint and discipline, confirming also the broad, non-racial character of the peaceful protests that followed. Our student body has matured and our campus cultures are much more inclusive and transformed as a result of the quality and depth of student leadership over the past few years. The new Student Representative Council (SRC) is a splendid example of this – with the first black woman President (Mosa Leteane) and the first blind woman SRC student leader (Louzanne Coetzee).”

“I am pleased that the matter is now behind us and, again, we rest with the decisions of the Commission and the Courts as final,” he said.

Prof Jansen also apologised on behalf of the UFS to Cobus Muller and Charl Blom, their parents, and their families, for the disruption that the suspension brought in their lives and for the stress they had to bear during this difficult period. “For that, I am truly sorry,” he said.


Issued by: Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Tel: +27 (0) 51 401 2584 | +27 (0) 83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

 

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept