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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

Shimlas still the only unbeaten side in 2015 Varsity
2015-03-18

The Shimlas remain the only unbeaten side in this year’s Varsity Cup rugby tournament after their bonus-point 44-24 win against the University of Cape Town Ikeys in Bloemfontein.

The home side managed a very comfortable 34-8 lead in the first half against the defending champions Ikeys. No matter how hard the Ikeys fought back, the Shimlas win was inevitable, and secured the first ever home semifinal at the UFS.

It was in the second minute that Shimlas’ Gerhard Olivier went over the try line. The Shimlas continued to press forward, and kept the game play primarily in the UCT half of the field. By the time the first Strategy Break came along, the Shimlas already had a 21-0 lead over their visitors. The Ikeys did manage one converted try before halftime, still leaving the home side with  a 34-8 lead.

After halftime, there was still no stopping the Shimlas. Even when UCT’s attempt at a comeback saw them scoring their second converted try, the point difference were still 18 points. Shortly after, Olivier scored his third try for the Shimlas. The Ikeys’ response to this was scoring a third try in their comeback effort, putting the scoreboard at 39-24 with Shimlas still in the lead after 65 minutes.

Despite Ikeys’ attempt for their bonus point try near fulltime, Shimlas’ counter-attack saw their replacement player Boela Venter cross the try line for the last  time to secure a 44-24 win for the home side.

The Shimlas will host North-West University’s Pukke side at Shimla Park in the last round of the tournament this coming Monday. For the first time since the Varsity Cup’s inauguration in 2008, the UFS side has already secured a home semifinal for the week after.

Shimlas point scorers:

Tries: Gerhard Olivier (3), Johan van der Hoogt, Danie Maartens (2), Boela Venter
Conversion kicks: Niel Marais (3)

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