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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

Code-switching, tokenism and consumerism in print advertising
2014-10-27

Code-switching, linguistic tokenism and modern consumerism in contemporary South African print advertising. This is the current research focus of two lecturers from the Faculty of the Humanities at the UFS, Prof Angelique van Niekerk and Dr Thinus Conradie.

The act of switching between two or more languages is replete with socio-cultural meaning, and can be deployed to advance numerous communicative strategies, including attempts at signalling cultural familiarity and group affiliation (Chung 2006).

For advertising purposes, Fairclough’s (1989) seminal work on the ideological functions of language remark on the usefulness of code-switching as a means of fostering an advertiser-audience relationship that is conducive to persuasion. In advertising, code-switching is a valuable means with which a brand may be invested with a range of positive associations. In English-dominated media, these associations derive from pre-existing connotations that target audiences already hold for a particular (non-English) language. Where exclusivity and taste, for example, are associated with a particular European language (such as French), advertising may use this languages to invest the advertised brand with a sense of exclusivity and taste.

In addition, empirical experiments with sample audiences (in the field of consumer research) suggest that switching from English to the first language of the target audience, is liable to yield positive results in terms of purchase intentions (Bishop and Peterson 2011). This effect is enhanced under the influence of modern consumerism, in which consumption is linked to the performance of identity and ‘[b]rands are more than just products; they are statements of affiliation and belonging’ (Ngwenya 2011, 2; cf. Nuttall 2004; Jones 2013).

In South African print magazines, where the hegemony of English remains largely uncontested, incorporating components of indigenous languages and Afrikaans may similarly be exploited for commercial ends. Our analysis suggests that the most prevalent form of code-switching from English to indigenous South African languages represents what we have coded as linguistic tokenism. That is, in comparison with the more expansive use of both Afrikaans and foreign languages (such as French), code-switching is used in a more limited manner, and mainly to presuppose community and solidarity with first-language speakers of indigenous languages. In cases of English-to-Afrikaans code-switching, our findings echo the trends observed for languages such as French and German. That is, the language is exploited for pre-existing associations. However, in contrast with French (often associated with prestige) and German (often associated with technical precision), Afrikaans is used to invoke cultural stereotypes, notably a self-satirical celebration of Afrikaner backwardness and/or lack of refinement that is often interpolated with hyper-masculinity.

References


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