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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

Kovsie Biggest Braai a huge success
2017-08-30

 Description: Braai Tags: Kovsie Biggest Braai, Kovsie, International Student Council 

Prof Francis Petersen, also attending the braai, is here being
interviewed by one of our #KovsieCyberStas, Thuli Molebalwa.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Even though Braai Day is celebrated nationally in September, students at the University of the Free State (UFS) had their own braai day. The Kovsie Biggest Braai was the biggest student community event of the year.

Takudzwa Nyamunda of the International Student Council said the idea for the braai came from the International Student Association as a social cohesion event for international students. “When the idea was presented to my office we realised the potential for such an initiative to be not just for students but for the whole Kovsie community.”  

They realised there were not a lot of social cohesion events on campus where students and staff could just take a day to relax and embrace the feeling of being a Kovsie. He said he believed the braai could provide the right platform. The main objective of this project was to make it an institutional event with aspects of fundraising for the future. 

Colleges made KBB a success 
An estimated 3500 people attended the festivities on Red Square on 12 August. “We used the college format for the braai and it was set in the form of a challenge between the five colleges, but one of the colleges pulled out,” Takudzwa said. The colleges that did participate made a big contribution towards the success of the event and did all the braaing and selling. 

Creating new Kovsie traditions 
The idea behind the pilot project is that it becomes an annual event which in turn will form part of a new Kovsies tradition. “It received endorsement from top management therefore I believe it will form part of the Kovsie calendar for years to come,” Takudzwa said. 

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