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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

Kovsie first-years get ready for great things
2011-01-16

Prof. Jonathan Jansen (Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS) with two of the first-year students.
- Photo: Lize-Mare Smit

“One thing I can assure you: here academic work comes first.” This was how Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), set first-years parents’ minds at ease during the welcoming events of the first-years on the Main Campus the past weekend. 

The welcoming events, which took place over two days, were attended by a total of 7 000 first-years and their parents from across the country. 
 
Prof. Jansen also told the students and their parents that they were at the best place, by sharing his excitement about all the new students who decided to come and study at Kovsies. “You have overcome major obstacles in order to be here today,” he said at the welcoming.
 
With more than 90% new students who comply with admission requirements, this group of students promises to become true leaders of South Africa.
 
Prof. Jansen shared a few plans for the year with the audience. “As in 2010, we shall once again send a group of first-year students to universities later this year, not only in America, but amongst others also to Europe and Asian countries, amongst others, to learn more about different cultures and diversity. We aim to double the number of students who will be selected to 150 this year.” We can also look forward to, amongst others, a brand-new entrance and gymnasium for the Main Campus and four new hostels, two of which will be built on the Qwaqwa Campus.
 
Prof. Jansen emphasised the seriousness with which academic work had to be regarded, by referring to the compulsory class attendance that was implemented last year. “Since the inception of this arrangement in 2010, there was a 30% increase in students’ pass rate,” he said.
 
This year, for the first time, honorary awards were also given to young people who had rendered an exceptional service to the community. Anél Kleingeld, a 10-year-old learner from Trompsburg, and Mpho Phahlo from the UFS’s Unit for Students with Disabilities proudly received these awards. Anél made a remarkable contribution to George’s community when she encouraged learners from her` school to collect and deliver 700 litres of water for this community. Mpho made a point of assisting and motivating persons with disabilities at Kovsies to work hard on a daily basis.
 
 

 

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