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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

But do you forgive yourself, Eugene de Kock? asks Candice Mama
2015-03-16

From the left are: Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Candice Mama and Prof André Keet, Director of the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.
Photo: O'Ryan Heideman

 

Candice Mama: Audio

Candice Mama and her family met with her father’s assassin. Eugene de Kock. Prime Evil. Commander of the apartheid government’s covert Vlakplaas police unit. And what followed from this meeting was one of our country’s most poignant gestures of reconciliation. One by one, each family member expressed their forgiveness of De Kock, and soon afterwards, he was granted parole.

Candice recently visited the Bloemfontein Campus to talk about ‘An Unexpected Encounter with Eugene de Kock: A Journey of Transformation’. The event was a collaborative effort between the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice and Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies.

“What makes it possible to cross the boundary from loss and pain to bond with the person who hurt you?” Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, asked Candice. “I had to educate myself about the when, where, and how, to get a context for Eugene de Kock,” she answered. With the encouragement of her mother, Candice became an avid reader from an early age. She devoured information, so that she could build a picture of this man within a specific historical and political context. What also contributed to this moment of reconciliation for her was De Kock humbling himself and taking full responsibility for his actions.

This meeting was not without inner conflict for Candice, though. “Why am I crying for hím?” she asked herself as she listened to him speak. “Why am I laughing?” she chastised herself as De Kock preened shyly for a group photograph with the family. “Is there something wrong with me to connect with him?” She questioned her values and beliefs. But instead of a monster, Candice saw the true essence of a repentant human being.

But how do you know he didn’t fake it, many people asked. Because it was “one of the most sincere and honest encounters I’ve experienced,” she said. During their meeting, Candice saw a man “crushed by the world”. Everything he believed as a young man, he realised, was a lie.

“Do you forgive yourself?” Candice asked the one question De Kock feared most. And in that moment, he was humanised for her. “When you’ve done the things I’ve done,” De Kock replied, “how do you forgive yourself?”
It remains an open question. But this act of forgiveness gives an entire country hope.

 

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za.

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