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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

Students help to get the economy back to the rural areas
2009-08-14

 
At the launch of Sanlam’s Creativity for Progress Competition for the Ekn 324 group were, from the left: P.J. Bothma, Mr Frank Louw, National Sponsorship Manager of Sanlam, Dr Karen Thomas, lecturer in Economic Policy at the Department of Economics, Kaylee Wells and Eugene Maseme.
Photo: Lacea Loader


Third-year students in the subject Economic Policy Analysis at the UFS are hard at work to think of ideas on how knowledge and expertise can be taken back to the rural areas of South Africa. This is the theme of Sanlam’s national competition for universities called Creativity for Progress with a total prize money of R900 000. This year's topic is "Rural areas are failing to retain and attract skilled people and graduates, resulting in economic stagnation. How would you remedy this?"

The group of 162 students, which is divided into groups of six, must compile a project that is academically grounded, practical and implementable. They must also approach the project from a community service learning perspective and it counts a quarter of their semester mark. To encourage the students, Prof. Tienie Crous, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, has sponsored some prizes for which the groups must compete. Teams of between four and six members will first compete at intra-varsity level to determine a varsity winner. The national panel members will then adjudicate the varsity winners, and invite the semi finalists to the finals. Teams will be assessed on their business proposals as well as the presentation of these proposals to a panel of judges. Last year the group from the UFS ended second in the final round of the competition.

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