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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

Prof Marais awarded the first UFS Book Prize for Distinguished Scholarship
2015-03-19

Prof Kobus Marais

Prof Kobus Marais, from the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice, was recently awarded the UFS Book Prize for Distinguished Scholarship for 2014.

The prize, awarded for its first time in 2014, consists of an inscribed certificate of honour with a monetary award of R50 000 paid into Marais’s research entity. The book for which Marais received this award is Translation Theory and Development Studies: A Complex Theory Approach (2014, Routledge, New York).

“It falls within the discipline of translation studies, but it is actually an interdisciplinary approach, linking translation studies and development studies,” says Marais.

Therefore, it aims to provide a philosophical underpinning to translation, and relate translation to development.

“The second aim flows from the first section’s argument that societies emerge out of, amongst others, complex translational interactions amongst individuals,” Marais says. “It will do so by conceptualising translation from a complexity and emergence point of view, and by relating this view on emergent semiotics to some of the most recent social research.”

It fulfils its aim further by providing empirical data from the South African context concerning the relationship between translation and development. The book intends to be interdisciplinary in nature, and to foster interdisciplinary research and dialogue by relating the newest trends in translation theory, i.e. agency theory in the sociology of translation, to development theory within sociology. 

“Data are drawn from fields that have received very little if any attention in translation studies, i.e. local economic development, the knowledge economy, and the informal economy, says Marais.”

The UFS Book Prize for Distinguished Scholarship was initiated in 2014 to bestow recognition on any permanent staff member of the UFS for outstanding publications which consist of research published as an original book, on the condition that the greater part (50% or more) of the book has not been published previously. This stimulates the production of significant and original contributions of international quality by our staff. In this way, the UFS is striving, through a series of award-winning books, to enhance the quality of specialised works published by our staff members.

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