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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

University of the Free State strives towards going ‘green’
2017-08-07

 Description: Benedict Mochesela  Tags: Benedict Mochesela  

Benedict Mochesela from University Estates on the
UFS Bloemfontein Campus. A total of thirty brand-new
water storage tanks, between 5 000 and 20 000 litres,
were installed.
Photo: Anja Aucamp


Eight provinces, including the Free State, were declared disaster areas last year due to the ongoing drought. This had a devastating effect on the agricultural sector, leaving many communities dry.

University Estates at the University of the Free State found an ideal project to make university buildings greener. A total of thirty water storage tanks, varying in size from 5 000 to 20 000 litres, were installed at various buildings on the Bloemfontein Campus. As a pilot phase, these tanks were specifically installed at residences and buildings with high traffic volumes.

Importance of water tanks at the UFS
According to Benedict Mochesela, Project Manager of this initiative, the purpose of the project is to harvest rainwater, which will be used during emergencies when the campus does not have water and the emergency water storage facility is depleted. “This water is not intended for drinking, but for the flushing of toilets,” says Mochesela.

He mentioned that the water will also be used for watering flowerbeds and gardens when the water has been standing for a long time without being used.

Recycling water: An initiative to protect the environment
A number of water storage tanks are already in place at the Qwaqwa Campus and a preliminary phase of using grey water from residences is currently ongoing at the South Campus. Grey water is made up of bath, shower, and bathroom sink water. The water is reused for toilet flushing as well as for irrigation purposes.

“Recycling of water is one of a number of initiatives the university intends to undertake to ensure and show the community that this institution remains conscious of the environment and to changes which we continuously need to adapt to.”

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