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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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Read a book SA encourages South Africans to read one book a month
2012-09-20

Campus Principal Dr Elias Malete on the left and Tebogo Ditshego's. With them are Betsy Eister, UFS Director: Library and Information Services and Mathene Mahanke from the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.
20 September 2012

'Read a book SA's" objective is to bring reading into the everyday lives of South Africans. Speaking at Writers’ Day on the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State last Thursday, Ditshego said reading was essential. “Of all the skills that anyone can ever have, reading is the most fundamental of them all. It improves one's attention, confidence and discipline, amongst others.”

Ditshego asked why South Africa is presently faced with a 25,2% unemployment rate compared to Germany's 6-8%, despite South Africa having more and better natural resources. The answer, according to him, rests with lack of knowledge and critical skills in South Africans.

“Out of 144 countries, South Africa is ranked 133th in as far as the delivery of quality education is concerned. The reason for this is that South Africans lack knowledge, as they do not read enough. Most South Africans read for information, which is different from knowledge,” Ditshego argued.

In his welcoming remarks, Campus Principal Dr Elias Malete challenged authors to continue reminding society of their responsibilities.

“It is also your duty and responsibility to teach diplomacy lessons, to teach about effective leadership that is accountable, fair and transparent,” said Dr Malete.

Amongst the established authors who shared their wisdom with budding writers was Dr KPD Maphalla, a Sesotho literature guru and custodian of Sesotho language and culture. UFS students and learners from Sekgutlong and Tiisetsang secondary schools had the opportunity to showcase their writing skills. They also received expert advice on manuscript development and publishing from Mathene Mahanke from the Free State's Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.

The annual Writers' Day is a joint venture of the Campus Principal and the Library and Information Services (LIS).

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