Top degrees hard earned

2018-07-18 06:02
The University of the Free State (UFS) has conferred top honours to the foursome involved in water-footprint assessment and water-management research. From the left are Dr Enoch Owusu-Sekyere, Dr Henry Jordaan (study leader and senior lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics), Dr Frikkie Maré (head of the Department of Agricultural Economics) and Adetoso Adetoro. Photo:Leonie Bolleurs

The University of the Free State (UFS) has conferred top honours to the foursome involved in water-footprint assessment and water-management research. From the left are Dr Enoch Owusu-Sekyere, Dr Henry Jordaan (study leader and senior lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics), Dr Frikkie Maré (head of the Department of Agricultural Economics) and Adetoso Adetoro. Photo:Leonie Bolleurs

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The University of the Free State (UFS) recently conferred three prestigious degrees to academics involved in Water Research Commission (WRC).

The university bestowed a master’s degree on Adetoso Adetoro and two PhD degrees on Dr Enoch Owusu-Sekyere and Dr Frikkie Maré, respectively.

The recipients are with the university’s Department of Agricultural Economics. The university honoured them during the winter graduation ceremony held at its Bloemfontein campus from 27 to 29 June.

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 WRC. Their involvement in the research is part of finding solution to South Africa’s water scarcity challenge.

The UFS through the department in question is involved in various water-footprint and water-management research projects which assist in providing solutions for better water management in the future.

PhD degrees recipient Maré, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the UFS, pointed out that South Africa’s water scarcity challenge has been highlighted in the past years to the extent that city dwellers were very aware, due to the strict water restrictions.

“As a 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 Maré.

The three have added to the number of recipients of the prestigious honour.

According to Dr Henry Jordaan, senior lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics at UFS, four of his students have already received their master’s degrees on the topic of water-footprint assessment. He said two students were pursuing PhDs and three more working on their master’s degrees.

“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,” said Jordaan.

“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.”

He said the challenge was to feed the growing population while still using the scarce freshwater resources sustainably.

“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 Jordaan.

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