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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

Plant scientist, Prof Zakkie Pretorius, contributes to food security with his research
2014-08-26

 
Many plant pathologists spend entire careers trying to outwit microbes, in particular those that cause diseases of economically important plants. In some cases control measures are simple and successful. In others, disease management remains an ongoing battle. 

Prof Zakkie Pretorius, Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, works on a group of wheat diseases known as rusts. The name is derived from the powdery and brown appearance of these fungi.

Over the course of history wheat rusts have undergone what are notoriously known as boom and bust cycles. During boom periods the disease is controlled by means of heritable resistance in a variety, resulting in good yields. This resistance, though, is more often than not busted by the appearance of new rust strains with novel parasitic abilities. For resistance to remain durable, complex combinations of effective genes and chromosome regions have to be added in a single wheat variety.

In recent years, Prof Pretorius has focused on identifying and characterising resistance sources that have the potential to endure the onslaught of new rust races. His group has made great progress in the control of stripe rust – where several chromosome regions conditioning effective resistance have been identified.

Dr Renée Prins of CenGen and an affiliated UFS staff member, developed molecular markers for these resistance sources. These are now routinely applied in wheat breeding programmes in South Africa. In addition, Prof Pretorius collaborates with several countries to transfer newly discovered stem rust resistance genes to wheat, and in characterising effective sources of resistance in existing wheat collections.

His work is closely supported by research conducted by UFS colleagues, students and other partners on the genetics of the various wheat rust pathogens. These studies aim to answer questions about:
• the origin and relatedness of rust races,
• their highly successful parasitic ability, and
• their adaptation in different environments.

The UFS wheat rust programme adds significantly to the development of resistant varieties and thus more sustainable production of this important crop. 

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