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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

Learners show how they built model racing car for international competition
2009-11-10

The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) has sponsored a group of learners from Afrikaans Secondary School in Sasolburg to participate in the international round of the F1 in Schools Competition in London in the United Kingdom in September 2009. The F1 in Schools is a competition where schools are challenged to build compact, gas cylinder-driven model racing cars. The team, who competed with a team of Germany against the national winners of other countries, recently did a presentation for the Faculty to tell about the competition and to thank the Faculty for its sponsorship. Here are, from the left: Mr Eugene Wilsenach from F1 in Schools; Heleen van Greunen, Afrikaans Secondary School Sasolburg; Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences; and Prof. Neil Heideman, Vice-Dean of the Faculty; back: Chacques van der Vyfer, goods manager; Rohan Laas, graphic designer; Wynand Holtzhausen, design manager; Scholtz Thiart, manufacturing manager; Dekker Coetsee, financial manager; and Helgaard Janse van Rensburg, team manager
Photo: Stephen Collett

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