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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

Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and forgiveness – Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s take on gestures of reconciliation
2015-02-06

What Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, found over the years talking to Eugene de Kock, was a man tortured by his past. By the deeds he has committed.

“As a result he was confronting these – not as a cog in a machine – but as a person who actually did the deed himself,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela said during an interview [https://soundcloud.com/primediabroadcasting/dr-gobodo-on-de-kock-parole] with Pippa Hudson on Cape Talk. A man taking personal responsibility.

Against the backdrop of De Kock recently granted parole, what, then, is the nature of forgiveness?

“Often people think when they forgive, you forgive and forget. That’s not the point,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says. “Forgiving, in fact, I found is the wrong word. We are using forgiveness for a range of responses. What I find useful in this kind of work is to think about how people change, how people are transformed. In other words, to think about our empathic connection to people who are our former enemies.” In other words: to reach a place where both parties can see each other as fellow human beings. “Somehow when a person expresses remorse – in the way Eugene de Kock has done – it opens a door for the different kinds of relationships to that traumatic past,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says.

In an article for the Sunday Times, Prof Gobodo-Madikizela refers to the motion to immortalise F W de Klerk by renaming Table Bay Boulevard after him. In this piece, she clearly points out that De Klerk is not without blood on his hands. She agrees with Mayor Patricia de Lille’s support of this tribute to De Klerk, though, when De Lille refers to ‘the spirit of reconciliation that Tata Madiba believed in’.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha – who granted De Kock parole – and De Lille “are right in evoking the memory of Nelson Mandela through these important gestures of reconciliation,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela remarks. The need to return to Nelson Mandela’s vision, she adds, remains urgent.

Read Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s full article, published in the Sunday Times, here.
For Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s response to Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and reconciliation, read here.

 

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