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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

Anxiety about losing a loved one to death culminates in runner-up prize at Sasol New Signatures Art Competition
2014-09-15

 

Adelheid Camilla von Maltitz
Photo: Supplied

Adelheid Camilla von Maltitz – a lecturer at our Department of Fine Arts – has been awarded the runner-up prize at the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. Her sculptural piece, ‘Bodies’, explores the process of mourning and loss and the grey areas between life and death.

The Sasol New Signatures Art Competition is recognised as the country’s longest running art competition. The competition has kick-started the careers of some of South Africa's most prominent artists. Last year, the competition was won by another Kovsie, Dot Vermeulen.

“Personally, I experienced an intense and consistent sense of anxiety towards death, specifically an anxiety towards losing a loved one due to a road accident. This led me to wonder how an individual copes with substantial loss. During my practical research it became obvious that there are many contrasts existing in the mourning process, contrasts related to anxiety and peace,” said Von Maltitz.

The piece encourages contemplation on three levels.

At the first level, two boxes lie on the floor covered in heaped earth and ash which suggests a buried body: closed, powerless and dark. Here, Von Maltitz invites the viewer to use this space to contemplate the process of mourning and loss.

The second level offers fragmented apparitions displayed in the light boxes, commenting on the ‘grey area’ between life and death.

At the third and final level, the viewer stands between the light boxes: open, alive and powerful.

Von Maltitz is currently reading for her PhD in Fine Arts at Kovsies. Commenting on her research, Von Maltitz said that she is “also interested in comparing the use of repetitive actions – such as revisiting a grave, which seem present in the mourning process – to the use of repetition in sculptural installation.” She is also interested in the relationship between these repetitions and anxiety and relieving anxiety, either permanently or temporarily.


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