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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 Jonathan Jansen elected as new ASSAf President
2016-10-28

Description: Prof Jonathan Jansen ASSAf President Tags: Prof Jonathan Jansen ASSAf President

Prof Jonathan Jansen, former Vice-Chancellor
and Rector of the UFS, has been appointed
President of the ASSAf.
Photo: Supplied

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) has elected former Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Jonathan Jansen, as its new President for the next four years. He succeeds Prof Daya Reddy. Distinguished Professors Brenda Wingfield and Barney Pityana were elected ASSAf’s new Vice-Presidents.

The minds that shape tomorrow
The academy’s directive is to advise and provide the government with evidence-based solutions to national problems; inspiration, and examples of how science and technology can be applied for the benefit of society. ASSAf represents scientists in South Africa but also represents the country in the international community of science academies.

Prof Jansen, who is currently a Senior Research Professor at the UFS and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, is also a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, a Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences, and President of the South African Institute of Race Relations.

The great achieve greatly
Prof Jansen’s book, Knowledge in the Blood: Confronting Race and the Apartheid Past won the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize, the largest award from the British Academy for Social Sciences and Humanities, for its contribution to scholarly excellence and transcultural understanding.

In 2013, he was awarded the Education Africa Lifetime Achiever Award in New York and the Spendlove Award from the University of California for his contributions to tolerance, democracy and human rights. He holds honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Vermont and Cleveland State University.

Plans for the future

His recent books include Leading for Change, which was published this year. He is completing a new book explaining the current crisis in, and future prospects of, South African universities, due for release in mid-2017.

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