Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
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

Moshoeshoe - lessons from an African icon - by Prof Frederick Fourie
2004-11-03

(The full text of the article that appeared in City Press and Sunday Independent)

Our understanding of history informs our understanding of the present. No wonder the contestation over historical figures in South Africa’s past is so fierce and so divisive.
The question is: could it be any other way? I would like to think that it could; that black and white South Africans, across linguistic, cultural, religious and other divides, can develop a shared appreciation of our history – at least with certain periods and personalities as a starting point.

One such personality whose legacy I believe offers a possible platform for unifying our still divided country is King Moshoeshoe, who lived from 1786 to 1870, and is acknowledged as the founder of the Basotho.

King Moshoeshoe is the topic of a documentary that has been commissioned by the University of the Free State as part of its Centenary celebrations this year. It is part of a larger project to honour and research the legacy of Moshoeshoe. The documentary will be screened on SABC 2 at 21:00 on November 4th.

Moshoeshoe rose to prominence at a time of great upheaval and conflict in South Africa – the 19th century, a time when British colonialism was entrenching itself, when the Boer trekkers were migrating from the Cape and when numerous indigenous chiefdoms and groupings were engaged in territorial conquests. It was the time of the Difaqane, a period when society in the central parts of the later South Africa and Lesotho was fractured, destabilised and caught in a cycle of violence and aggression.

In this period Moshoeshoe displayed a unique and innovative model of leadership that resulted in reconciliation, peace and stability in the area that later became Lesotho and Free State. It made him stand out from many of his contemporaries and also caught the attention of his colonial adversaries.

Such an evaluation is not a judgment about which model of leadership is right and which is wrong, or which leader was better than another; but merely an attempt to explore what we can learn from a particular exemplar.
|
Historians point to the many progressive leadership qualities displayed by Moshoeshoe which he used effectively in establishing the Basotho nation and in defending it.
First, there is his humanism and sense of justice worthy of any great statesman. Confronted by a situation in which cannibals murdered and devoured his grandfather, Moshoeshoe chose not to take revenge. Instead he opted to rehabilitate them and feed them as he believed hunger drove them to cannibalism.

Secondly, there is his skilful alliance-building with his contemporaries such as Shaka in an attempt to neutralize those rivals who were intent on attacking his followers. This is also displayed in the way he sought the protection of the British to keep the Boer forces at bay.
Thirdly, his emphasis on peaceful options is also seen in his defensive military strategy which saw him retreat to a mountain fortress to be able to protect and build a burgeoning nation in the face of the many forces threatening its survival.

Fourthly, there is his remarkable inclusivity and tolerance for diversity which saw him unite disparate groups of refugees from the violence and hunger that displaced them and then weld them into the Basotho nation. He also engaged with French missionaries, inviting them to stay with him and advise him on Western thought, technology and religion.
These are but some of the qualities which belie the notion that all 19th century African leaders were merely marauders and conquerors that gained their ascendancy through violence. Instead Moshoeshoe is a prime example of the human-centred, democratic and pluralist roots of South African, indeed African society.

The Moshoeshoe project that we have initiated (of which the documentary, called “The Renaissance King”, forms but one part) derives from our location as a university in the Free State, a province with a particular history and a particular political culture that developed as a result of this very model of leadership. This province has benefited tremendously from leaders such as Moshoeshoe and president MT Steyn, both of whom many observers credit with establishing a climate of tolerance, respect for diversity of opinion, political accommodation and peaceful methods of pursuing political objectives in the province. Their legacy is real – and Moshoeshoe’s role can not be overstated.
In addition the project derives from the University of the Free State being a site of higher learning in a broader geo-political sense. As a university in Africa we are called upon to understand and critically engage with this history, this context and this legacy.
Besides the documentary, the UFS is also planning to establish an annual Moshoeshoe memorial lecture which will focus on and interrogate models of African leadership, nation-building, reconciliation, diversity management and political tolerance.

In tackling such projects, there may be a temptation to engage in myth-making. It is a trap we must be wary of, especially as an institution of higher learning. We need to ask critical questions about some aspects of Moshoeshoe’s leadership but of current political leadership as well. Thus there is a need for rigorous academic research into aspects of the Moshoeshoe legacy in particular but also into these above-mentioned issues.
While the documentary was commissioned to coincide with the University of the Free State’s centenary and our country’s ten years of democracy, it is a project that has a much wider significance. It is an attempt to get people talking about our past and about our future, as a campus, as a province and as a country – even as a continent, given the NEPAD initiatives to promote democracy and good governance.

The project therefore has particular relevance for the continued transformation of institutions such as universities and the transformation of our society. Hopefully it will assist those who are confronted by the question how to bring about new institutional cultures or even a national political culture that is truly inclusive, tolerant, democratic, non-sexist, non-racial, multilingual and multicultural.

I believe that the Moshoeshoe model of leadership can be emulated and provide some point of convergence. A fractured society such as ours needs points of convergence, icons and heroes which we can share. Moshoeshoe is one such an African icon – in a world with too few of them.

Prof Frederick Fourie is the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State

* The documentary on “Moshoeshoe: The Renaissance King” will be screened on SABC2 on 4 November 2004 at 21:00.

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept