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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

Land a fertile field for historians
2017-12-25


 Description: Dr Admire Mseba Tags: Dr Admire Mseba 

Dr Admire Mseba, historian and researcher in the International Studies Group (ISG).
Photo: Charl Devenish

The use of land and the economics of Southern Africa at present is a contentious subject at almost every level of society. A historian and researcher who revels in happenings in these two areas, is Dr Admire Mseba, a postdoctoral research fellow in the International Studies Group (ISG) at the UFS.

Dr Mseba grew up in the Mberengwa region in southern Zimbabwe, known for cattle farming and mineral mining. While at the University of Zimbabwe, he became interested in economic history and archaeology, and completed his PhD at the University of Iowa in the USA. During his time there, Dr Mseba also became passionate about environmental history.

A historian's ability to think and engage critically on diverse subjects drew Dr Mseba to his field. Currently, he is busy with three research projects. Firstly, he is working on a book on social relations, about access to land in Zimbabwe. He is also examining regional and national efforts to control migratory pests during the 20th century, in particular, the red locust. In collaboration with a colleague at the ISG, Dr Mseba is also researching monetary systems in central Africa, covering the present-day countries of Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia.

Dr Mseba believes future research opportunities in the domains of economic and environmental history abound. For one, the land question has been very topical in Zimbabwe for more than a decade—as it is now in South Africa—and needs more scrutiny. Regarding agrarian pestilences, he indicates the recent phenomenon of armyworm invasion. “There are so many opportunities for historians to investigate. There are so many ways to think about these things and trying to put it in perspective.”

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