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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

Mid-year prize-giving ceremony for UPP and Extended Programme students
2012-09-20

Prof. Neil Heideman, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, with top achiever Buyisani Masabalala.
20 September 2012

With a subject percentage of 94% in Chemistry and 89% in Mathematics, Buyisani Masabalala is at the top of his class. The student, who is part of the University Preparation Programme (UPP) offered on the South Campus of the University of the Free State, was named top student in the Natural Sciences for students in the programme.

Buyisani and 28 other students on the UPP and Extended Degree programme, received certificates at a prize-giving ceremony held on the South Campus. They were top performers during their first six months in all subjects on the UPP and Extended Degree programme. The UPP is a one-year bridging programme for students who do not meet the initial admission requirements for mainstream studies at a university. The extended degree programme caters for students who do meet mainstream university admission requirements but have a lower admission score.

With their excellent results, Buyisani and the other top achievers are now one step away from entrance into mainstream studies. They are now awaiting their final results that will be out at the end of the year. As an incentive to study even harder, the UPP top achievers in the Faculties of Humanities, Economic and Management Sciences, Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Agricultural Sciences and Education will each receive a bursary at the end of the year. The same applies for top achievers in the B Com and BSc Extended Programme and the Vocational Directed Preparation Programme top achievers.

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