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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

Significant boost for infrastructure development
2012-12-28

The University of the Free State (UFS) recently received a significant boost for its infrastructure development with the approval of infrastructure projects totalling
R333,600 million by the Department of Higher Education and Training for the next three years.

The funding includes cost sharing, with the department contributing R208,394 million and the UFS contributing an amount of R125,206 million.

The UFS Council approved the projects and the cost sharing during the last meeting for the year on 16 November 2012.

“We are elated by the generous funding received from the department as it will assist us in fast-tracking our infrastructure development, providing in the increasing need for new and upgraded facilities at all three campuses,” said Prof. Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations.

The projects include:

  • Upgrading and new disability access to various buildings on the Bloemfontein, South and Qwaqwa Campuses;
  • A building in Kimberley, which will be shared by the School for Allied Health Professionals and Nursing;
  • Upgrading and extension of the biotechnology and nutrition facilities, additional infrastructure for the Department of Physics and the upgrading of an extension to the genetic sciences facilities on the Bloemfontein Campus;
  • A new 250-bed student residence on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campusus, respectively;
  • Facilities for the Faculty of Education;
  • Six lecture rooms on the South Campus;
  • Upgrading of the interpreting laboratory and the development of an audio-visual production facility for recording of lectures on the Bloemfontein Campus;
  • Provision of office space for the Centre for Teaching and Learning on the Bloemfontein Campus;
  • Lecture halls and a laboratory for the Department of Geography and Tourism on the Qwaqwa Campus; and
  • Funding of additional infrastructure for the Department of Physics on the Qwaqwa Campus.

 “The department made special mention of the way the UFS manages its infrastructure and efficiency funding when the announcement about the allocation of funds was made. This is a feather in our cap as the department has been referring other higher education institutions to the UFS for advice on infrastructure development,” he said.

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