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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

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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