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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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Students win national Sanlam competition
2009-11-16

With the big cheque are, from the left: Mr Robert Goff from Sanlam, Jané du Plessis, fourth-year Physiotherapy student; Zenobia Louw, third-year Psychology student; Marissa van Eeden, fourth-year Physiotherapy student; Madelein Markram, M student: Architecture; Conrad Stoffberg, Hons. student: Architecture; Johan Human, fourth-year Physiotherapy student; and Mr Frank Louw from Sanlam.
Photo: Supplied
A team of students from the University of the Free State (UFS) recently walked away with the laurels when they won R100 000 in the national Creativity for Progress competition of Sanlam. In the competition students had to make plans to lure graduates and trained people who left the rural areas due to the economic situation back to those areas. Students first battled it out at department and faculty level before they faced other universities at national level. The UFS team came from three departments and designed a plan whereby the desolated railway stations in the rural areas could be converted into business centres that would breathe new life into those areas.

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