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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

Remain positive, keep an eye on the finish line
2016-10-28

Description: Remain positive Tags: Remain positive

Photo: iStock

No one is immune to anxiety, and the current challenging academic times are no exception. With the Academic Reboot Pack 2.0, the University of the Free State (UFS) addresses these adversities.

Dealing with anxiety differently
People react to anxiety differently. For some it’s like a dark tunnel with no light at the end, while it keeps others on their toes. Regardless of how you deal with it, it is still an unpleasant emotion.

“For me, it (anxiety) makes me more determined to do well, so that I can start the next part of my life as soon as possible,” said Greg Butters, a postgraduate BCom Accounting student at the UFS.

Ways to manage and overcome
There are different ways to manage anxiety. Here are some methods that can assist you in dealing with it:

Keep the following in mind when you are feeling anxious:
•    Realise that anxiety is an amplified response to stress.
•    Face your anxiety head-on.
•    Do not add to your anxiety by thinking about what "might" happen. If you find yourself asking "What if?" tell yourself "So what!"

Where to get the right help

It is also important to know that there is help. When you feel that anxiety is affecting you negatively, pick up a phone and call one of the following departments:

•    Medical Practice: +27 51 401 2603
•    Qwaqwa Campus Clinic: +27 58 718 5210
•    Sports and Exercise Medicine Clinic: +27 51 401 2530
•    First Aid: +27 51 401 3325
•    Emergencies (After hours) - ER 24: 0800 051 051 or 084 124

If you feel that you are managing you anxiety, but would like to develop your skills further, please make an appointment with Student Counselling and Development at: HerbstP@ufs.ac.za or phone +27 51 401 2853.

You can also contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) 24-hour helpline. SADAG has various helplines that can help you deal with anxiety and depression.

Get your copy of the Academic Reboot Pack 2.0 on Blackboard under announcements or click here to download it.

Also see the first Academic Reboot Pack.

If students have any question or queries regarding the Academic Reboot Pack, they can send an email to: advising@ufs.ac.za.

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