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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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Short course in population, environment and development draws participants from across the world
2013-09-04

Participants at this year’s short course in the Population, Environment and Development (PED) nexus.
4 September 2013

In 2006 the university, in collaboration with several national and international partners, such as the Department of Social Development (DSD), Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD): Southern and Eastern Africa, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and South African National Parks (SANParks, particularly Golden Gate Highlands National Park), launched a short course in the Population, Environment and Development (PED) nexus. Since 2006 a total of ten courses were presented and more than 300 mid-career managers, senior officials and NGO volunteers from across the world received training. The most recent course included participants from Vietnam, China, Tunisia, Gambia, Zimbabwe, Mexico and Uganda.

Colleagues from several academic departments and centres at the UFS – Sociology, Environmental Management, Development Studies and Disaster Management, in collaboration with the DSD and LEAD – gave theoretical inputs during the course, while colleagues from SANParks were primarily responsible for the facilitation of the practical visit on site. The PED nexus training programme has received international recognition as a best practice example of successful initiatives of this kind.

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