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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. 


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UFS student wins National SAICA Competition
2009-08-03

 
Photo: Lacea Loader


“Rapid urbanisation, HIV/Aids, climate change risks, and a lack of environmental awareness; are we anywhere near a sustainable development? The answer is no, but this doesn’t mean that we are far from it. All that it will take to get us on the right track is individuals and organisations asking themselves, ‘What am I responsible for?’ and taking the appropriate action, or else we won’t be able to answer to our children and their children.”

This is an excerpt from an essay written by Likeleli Mphutlane, a third-year student in B. Accounting at the University of the Free State (UFS). The essay won her the first place in an essay competition on sustainability. She was one of 137 students across the country that submitted an essay as part of the South African Institute of Chartered Accounting’s (SAICA) National Student Leadership Summit. The essay secured her a place as one of 24 students to attend the summit in Johannesburg on 25 July 2009 where she was named the winner of the competition.

The prize was a brand-new Dell laptop, which will assist her with her studies. The 20-year-old Likeleli, a student from Welwitchia Residence, who was also amongst the top 14 students in the university’s Matriculant of the Year Competition in 2006, lives in Lesotho.
 

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