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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

State of our campuses: Impact of non-completion of the 2016 academic year on UFS students
2016-10-08

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

Impact of non-completion of the 2016 academic year

The University of the Free State (UFS) reiterates its support and commitment to the cause of free higher education. We have stated our position in all the available spaces. We want to work with UFS students to put pressure on the government to commit itself to accept the many suggestions put forward to make free education possible within a negotiated timeframe.

We are also seriously committed to our responsibility of providing education to all students enrolled at the university. We are doing our outmost to ensure that we can resume academic activities next week.

Description: " Academic non-completion 2016 Tags: " Academic non-completion 2016

We want to bring to your attention what will happen to individual students if the UFS cannot resume classes fully on Monday 10 October 2016.

Currently we have extended the academic year by one week. Some faculties are working on Saturdays and Sundays, starting earlier and finishing later to complete the material that needs to be taught and the practical work that students need to do to be able to write exams.

In the three biggest faculties at the university: Education, the Humanities, and Natural Sciences, this is what will happen:

  • Education will fail to graduate 1 193 students
  • Humanities will fail to graduate 1 125 students
  • Natural and Agricultural Sciences will fail to graduate 1 390 students

In the professional faculties: Economic and Management Sciences, Health Sciences, and Law, this will happen:

  • Economic and Management Sciences will fail to graduate 997 students
  • Health Sciences will fail to graduate 633 students
  • Law will fail to graduate 619 students

In total, approximately 6 000 students will not receive complete transcripts of their degrees and the certificates for their qualifications.

The university currently has 3 238 students on NSFAS bursaries. None of these students will be able to apply for bursaries for the lost year. They will be regarded as having failed or not completed their courses. They will not only miss this year, but the opportunity of studying in the future.

These students come from families to which their success in higher education was supposed to mean a change in the future of the entire family. Some parents/guardians hold more than one job to be able to pay tuition fees.

In not allowing the year to continue and students to finish, we are throwing away the efforts that entire families of poor people have made for four or five years to put their children through university. The promise of free education for future generations means nothing to these families who are poor in the present.

In terms of the academic calendar, it is a false argument to say that universities will be able to enrol first-years, because what 2016 students will miss, is the second semester.

We do not have the capacity to teach double the number of students in the second semester. This also misses the point that those students who were completing modules in order to graduate, will waste an entire year (assuming they have funding) to complete their degrees. This argument does not see the knock-on effect that students, not promoting in modules from first to second and second to third year, etc., will have. Finally, this also misses the point of what will happen to students who have to repeat first-semester modules.

In terms of academic staff, students are discounting the willingness of academic staff to teach double or to have the academic year extended by approximately six weeks between teaching and examinations. The same can be said for all the administrative and support staff required for running the university.

In our case, all the students in the University Preparation Programme (UPP) on the South Campus in Bloemfontein will be stuck without being able to move into mainstream modules, preventing a new intake of UPP students for 2017. These are the poorest and most disadvantaged students at the UFS.

It is absolutely necessary to find a means of protest and political action that will not jeopardise the future of current students and the country’s desperate need for critical skills.  The interdict against violent protest secured by the UFS is still in force. The police will intervene if the interdict is not respected and the UFS will have no control over police actions.

We trust that parents/guardians and students understand the implications of the situation.

Kind regards,

Prof Nicky Morgan
Acting Rector
University of the Free State

 

Released by:
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27 51 401 2584 | +27 83 645 2454
Email: news@ufs.ac.za | loaderl@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27 51 444 6393


State of our campuses #11: Academic activities on UFS campuses continue

State of our campuses #10: Impact of non-completion of the 2016 academic year on UFS students 

State of our campuses #9: Academic programme on all UFS campuses to resume on Monday 10 October 2016

State of our campuses #8:  UFS extends vacation as from 28 September until 7 October 2016, 28 September 2016

State of our campuses #7: All three UFS campuses will be closed today, 27 September 2016.

State of our campuses #6: All UFS campuses reopen on Tuesday 27 September 2016

State of our campuses #5: UFS campuses to remain closed on Monday 26 September 2016

State of our campuses #4: Decisions about the UFS academic calendar

State of our campuses #3: UFS campuses closed until Friday 23 September 2016 

State of our campuses #2: UFS Bloemfontein and South Campuses closed on Tuesday 20 September 2016 (19 September 2016)

State of our campuses #1: Academic activities suspended on UFS Bloemfontein Campus (19 September 2016)

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