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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

UFS Council confirms decision to integrate student residences
2007-09-14

At its quarterly meeting held today (Friday, 14 September 2007) the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) confirmed the decision taken at its previous meeting that the student residences of the UFS should be racially integrated.

The decision was taken with an overwhelming majority with only one vote against it and will be implemented in January 2008.

The Council tabled and noted the resolution of the Convocation of 11 September 2007 concerning the Council’s initial decision of 8 June 2007 and urged the management to continue to be sensitive, empathetic and inclusive in dealing with the concerns and views of all stakeholders.

The Council also gave all interested parties the assurance that any suggestions that could assist in the successful implementation of its decision would be considered and called once again on all stakeholders to make proposals to the management of the UFS so as to ensure a well-managed process of integration and managing diversity in residences.

In this regard it welcomed the suggestion made by the alumni of the UFS for the introduction of a Diversity Scorecard for residences which would include a multi-dimensional range of indicators and incentives for residences. This could include the diversity profile of a residence, the academic performance of the students in a residence, inter-residence activities and community service projects launched by students.

According to the Rector and Vice-chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, the Council hereby also restated the educational motive for the integration of residences, which meant that from an educational point of view, students who had the knowledge and skills to manage diversity would have a distinct advantage in the workplace and in life.

“Today’s decision is a major step forward for the Council and the UFS to achieve a broad consensus around the promotion of diversity at the UFS and in its residences, as the institution has always been committed to giving the best education to students in a diverse and non-racial environment. I would like to call on current students, prospective students, parents, alumni and other stakeholders to make this work in the best interests of the university and its students,” Prof. Fourie said.

He added that the UFS had established several task teams comprising staff and students to implement the Council’s decision of 8 June 2007 and that much work had already been done to identify critical areas and tasks ahead of implementation in January 2008.


Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
14 September 2007
 

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