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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

Delegation from university in Mexico visits the UFS
2009-09-01

 
From the left are: Prof. Schalk Louw, Prof. Wijnand Swart, Dr Victor Pinto, UACH, Dr Lizel Hugo, National Museum, Dr Nahum Marban, UACH, Ms Henda Landman, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the UFS, Ms Louise Coetzee, National Museum, Mr Vaughn Swart, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the UFS, Dr Samuel Ramirez, UACH, and Dr Driekie Fourie, ARC-Grain Crops Institute in Potchefstroom.
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

 
A delegation from the Autonomous University of Chapingo (UACH) in Texcoco, Mexico visited the University of the Free State (UFS) recently to hold exploratory discussions with various scientists affiliated to the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, including the Centre for Plant Health Management (CePHMa). The visit builds on an institutional agreement that was signed between CePHMa and the University of Chapingo in 2006. The Mexican delegation was hosted by Prof. Wijnand Swart, Cluster Director: Technologies for Sustainable Crop Industries in Semi-arid regions, and consisted of Dr Victor Pinto (entomologist), Dr Samuel Ramirez (entomologist) and Dr Nahun Marban (nematologist). Prof. Schalk Louw from the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the UFS chaired a meeting with the three Mexican visitors and colleagues specialising in in acarology and nematology from the National Museum in Bloemfontein and the ARC-GCI in Potchefstroom, respectively. Discussions focused mainly on opportunities for collaborative research and student exchange between the aforementioned institutions and University of Chapingo.

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