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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 establishes Centre for Education Development
2007-09-26

At its meeting on 14 September 2007 the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) took a number of key decisions on matters recommended by the Executive Management of the university for its consideration or approval.
 
The Council gave the green light for the merger of the Section Upgrading of Education (School of Education) and Research Institute for Education Planning (RIEP) to create a single unit for education development. The qualifications and courses currently offered by these two units will henceforth be offered by the newly formed unit. The new unit will be known as the Centre for Education Development.
 
Under this new dispensation, amongst others, the functions of the unit will be extended to include other in-service training of teachers and empowering courses and qualifications as well. Some of the existing RIEP courses will be converted into credit-bearing short courses in more learning areas than are presently available, and that the focus will also be on offering short courses as the need may arise. Research will become a prominent function of this new unit.
 
The Council has also approved the reinstatement of the Department of Genetics as a stand-alone department. Currently Genetics is a sub-discipline of Plant Sciences. Its reinstatement as an independent department will have several advantages for the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, as well as the university, namely:
 
- with its own identity, Genetics as a subject will attract more students, through which the UFS will be able to get more subsidies.
- postgraduate students who leave the university for others will have an incentive to stay.
- researchers in Animal Genetics and Behavioural Genetics will be able to fulfil their full role.
- service delivery to the industry will result in the generation of third-stream income.
 
The Council also extended the terms of office of the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Johan Henning, and that of the Director of Finance, Mr Chris Liebenberg, for a further five years each.
 
The Council further appointed Dr Elias Nyefolo Malete as the Campus Principal of the UFS Qwaqwa Campus for a term of three years. Dr Malete has been acting in that position prior to his appointment.
 
Other matters involved the condonation of the Council’s 1995 resolution to sell the Hertzog House in Goddard Street in Bloemfontein, and the approval of the sale of another house in Biddulph Street in Harrismith.
 
Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@mail.ufs.ac.za
26 September 2007

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