Lucia Makgafele Ntsoane: her strategies will help to overcome our water shortage

Lucia Ntsoane is an assistant lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), and is enrolled for a DTech in agriculture, specialising in postharvest technology, at the TUT department of crop sciences. Ntsoane received a DAAD-NRF joint in-country scholarship for doctoral studies and completed an MTech in agriculture (cum laude) at TUT in May 2016.

Her research is on the use of deficit irrigation (to maximise water usage) and coloured shade nets (to modify light) to improve crop quality, mainly in summer conditions. These strategies will contribute to overcome climate change and water scarcity challenges in South Africa. The main objective of the study is to improve the water use efficiency of lettuce during production and improve crop yield. It is also hoped that this will provide information towards a pre-harvest tool that will improve the accumulation of phytochemical content (nutritional quality), shelf life and overall quality of the lettuces produced (linked to stress and the browning enzymes of fresh-cut lettuce after postharvest storage).

During her master’s studies, Ms Ntsoane published an article in the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology on how the responses of different varieties of lettuce grown under shade nets affects the phytochemical quality of lettuce at harvest and after postharvest storage. She presented her research findings at the Combined Crops, Horticulture, Soil and Weed Sciences Congress held in Durban in 2013, and in Bloemfontein in January 2016. She also presented her study to small-scale farmers at a farmers’ day hosted by the TUT crop sciences department.

Ntsoane is a recipient of an award from Mashav (Israel’s Agency for International Development Co-operation) and participated in an international research and development course on postharvest physiology, pathology and the handling of fresh commodities held in Israel in February 2016.

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