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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

News Archive

UFS hosts consortium to discuss broadening subcontinent’s food base
2017-03-14

Description: Cactus Tags: Cactus

The Steering Committee of the Collaborative
Consortium for Broadening the Food Base comprises,
from the left: Prof Wijnand Swart (UFS),
Dr Sonja Venter (ARC) and Dr Eric Amonsou (DUT).
Photo: Andrè Grobler

There is huge pressure on the agricultural industry in southern Africa to avert growing food insecurity. One of the ways to address this is to broaden the food base on the subcontinent via crop production. Climate change, urbanisation, population growth, pests and diseases continually hamper efforts to alleviate food insecurity. Furthermore, our dependence on a few staple crops such as maize, wheat, potatoes, and sunflower, serve to exacerbate food insecurity.  

Broadening the food base  
To address broadening the food base in southern Africa, scientists from the University of the Free State (UFS), the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) have formed a Collaborative Consortium for the development of underutilised crops by focusing on certain indigenous and exotic crops. The Consortium met at the UFS this week for two days (6, 7 March 2017) to present and discuss their research results. The Principal Investigator of the Consortium, Prof Wijnand Swart of the Department of Plant Sciences in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, said awareness had risen for the need to rescue and improve the use of orphan crops that were up to now, for the most part, left aside by research, technological development, and marketing systems.  

"Many indigenous southern African
plant grains, vegetables and tubers
have the potential to provide a variety
of diets and broaden the household
food base.”

Traditional crops Generally referred to as alternative, traditional or niche crops, five crops are being targeted by the Consortium, namely, two grain legumes, (Bambara groundnut and cowpea), amaranthus (leaf vegetable), cactus pear or prickly pear and amadumbe (a potato-like tuber). Swart said these five crops would play an important role in addressing the food and agricultural challenges of the future. “Many indigenous southern African plant grains, vegetables and tubers have the potential to provide a variety of diets and broaden the household food base.” The potential of the many so-called underutilised crops lies not only in their hardiness and nutritional value but in their versatility of utilisation. "It may be that they contain nutrients that can be explored to meet the demand for functional foods," said Swart.

Scientific institutions working together
The Collaborative Consortium between the three scientific institutions is conducting multi-disciplinary research to develop crop value chains for the five underutilised crops mentioned above. The UFS and ARC are mainly involved in looking at production technologies for managing crop environments and genetic technologies for crop improvement. The DUT is focusing on innovative products development and market development.  

 

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