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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

Renewable energy systems an economical investment for the UFS
2017-06-14

Description: Renewable energy  Tags: Renewable energy

The Qwaqwa Campus Arena equipped with freestanding
roof solar panels.
Photo: iFlair Photography

Renewable energy systems are said to be very expensive to implement initially, but in the long run they provide high economic returns.

With their decision to install renewable energy, the University of the Free State Department of Facilities Planning has now also adopted this innovative technology. They have chosen less capital-intensive solar power-generating options to generate electricity in various buildings and parking areas on all three UFS campuses.

“As per the UFS Energy Management Policy, all designs incorporate efficient, renewable energy sources varying from LED lights to solar power,” says Anton Calitz, Electrical Engineer in University Estates’ Department of Facilities Management.

South Campus taking the lead in renewable energy usage
In December 2016, a total of 26 solar-driven LED street-light poles were installed at the recently built Legae Residence’s parking area and the perimeter security area on the South Campus. This low-maintenance system improves security after dark and is independent of the national power supply, which is an important advantage during power outages. With no requirements for major earthworks and cable setting, operational costs are reduced.

The recently built infrastructure also takes pride in being the first to have a greywater system installed.  This system will also be installed at three other residences on the Bloemfontein Campus in 2017. Greywater is made up of bath, shower, and bathroom sink water. The water is reused for toilet flushing, as well as for irrigation purposes.

Various UFS electrical operations to depend on solar power
On the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses, the computer laboratories as well as the Thakaneng Bridge Student Centre and the projected Afromontane Research Centre will be equipped with freestanding roof solar solutions during 2017. These systems are designed to operate independently of the power grid (Eskom).

The systems only operate during sunlight hours when the PV solar panels are heated by the sun, making them suitable for operations such as ventilation fans, water pumps, and small circulation pumps for solar thermal water-heating systems.

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