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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

Young researchers shine during the international Afromontane Colloquium
2017-07-18

 Description: Afromontane Colloquium  Tags: Afromontane Colloquium  

From the left, are: Drs Reetu Sogani (India),
Greg Greenwood (US-Switzerland), Teboho Manchu,
Acting Campus Principal, Drs Jianchu Xu (China),
Henri Rueff (Switzerland), Glen Taylor, Senior Director:
Research Development; and Dr Elsa Crause,
Campus Vice-Principal: Academic and Research.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

The University of the Free State’s Afromontane Research Unit (ARU), which is situated on the Qwaqwa Campus, has the potential to produce some of the world’s best and dynamic young researchers. This is the view shared by Drs Henri Rueff and Reetu Sogani, who were the keynote speakers during the ARU Colloquium hosted at Golden Gate in the Eastern Free State.

Dr Rueff, a geographer and environmental economist from the Universities of Basel and Bern in Switzerland, was referring to no less than ten Qwaqwa Campus postgraduate students who made oral and poster presentations during the inaugural international colloquium.

Colloquium an opportunity to interact
“You have some of the world’s most motivated and highly skilled students who have the courage to stand in front of extremely critical scientists from all over the globe – and that must be commended,” he said.

Dr Reetu Sogani from India said that her first trip to South Africa did not disappoint. “This colloquium was a very good learning experience for me as I had the opportunity to interact with brilliant and young scientists from this part of the world,” she added.

In closing the colloquium, the Senior Director: Research Development, Dr Glen Taylor, committed the UFS to the success of the unit.

“The ARU will strengthen the research output of the campus. But most important of all, it is setting the research agenda for the Qwaqwa Campus, and for the institution at large, to address the challenges that the surrounding mountain communities are faced with,” he said.


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