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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

UFS experimental farm to be redesigned as a training facility
2004-10-25

Back fltr:
Dr Léan van der Westhuizen, Manager: UFS Sydenham Experimental Farm; Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS and Councilor Thami Stander, Chairperson: Mangaung Municipal Portfolio for Agriculture and Rural Development

Front fltr:
Mr Hanz Nketu, Chairperson: Free State Legislative Committee on Agriculture and Mr Peter Frewen from the Free State Legislature

The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences of the University of the Free State will soon sign a tri-partite cooperation agreement with the National African Farmers Union (NAFU) and the Mangaung Local Municipality with the aim of providing training and mentorship to small-scale and emerging farmers, including those recently settled under the on-going land redistribution programme.

The agreement is part of the Faculty’s strategic plan to support the on-going reform process in the country, of which Black Economic Empowerment in Agriculture (Agri-BEE) is an important part. The Free State Provincial Department of Agriculture is also actively supporting this initiative.

Under the plan, the Faculty is redesigning its experimental farm, located about 12 kilometers south of Bloemfontein, as a training facility to build up skills in among others broiler and egg production, dairy farming, animal husbandry, piggery, sheep and goat production. The idea is to introduce a comprehensive package that empowers the small and emerging farmers and the local communities adjoining the farms through simultaneous investments in research, extension, and practical agricultural training.

Learnerships are also being drawn up to provide productive skills in order to contribute to addressing the national skills gap and enhancing opportunities for both self and wage employment.

The residents of the adjoining informal settlement known as Mangaung Phase II where unemployment is currently at extremely high levels are primary targets of this component of the project. The Faculty intends for this project to service the farming communities of the Free State Province and gradually spread to other Provinces in the country.

Having recognised this training programme as a potential instrument for achieving “a united and prosperous agricultural sector”, the Free State Legislature has shown considerable interest in the programme.

Following a preparatory visit to the farms by the Agriculture Committee of the Free State Legislature a request was made to the Faculty to host a larger visit by the Legislative Committees of the Free State, North West and Eastern Cape Provincial Legislatures on Monday 25 October 2004 and present details of the training programme.

The President of NAFU in the Free State Province, Mr Nox Nonkonyana, the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, the Chair of the Mangaung Municipal Portfolio for Agriculture and Rural Development, Councilor Thami Stander, and the Chairperson of the Free State Legislative Committee on Agriculture, Mr M Nketu, will address the Legislators during the occasion.

Prof Herman van Schalkwyk

Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

University of the Free State, Bloemfontein

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
25 Oktober 2004

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