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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

‘Your capacity for change is limitless’
2013-09-13

 

Ready for the world - students taking part in the 2013 Leadership for Change programme getting ready to travel to universities in the USA, Europe and Asia.
Photo: Johan Roux
12 September 2013

 “You will change this campus, city, country, continent and the world, because you have the capacity for greatness,” Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), said.

He addressed the 2013 group of first-year students in the Leadership for Change programme at a farewell function before they will leave for universities abroad. The first 104 students from the 2013 total of 144 will depart on 18 September and return on 3 October 2013. The second group of 40 students will be abroad from 11 to 25 January 2014. The students are from the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses. They will be accompanied by mentors from the UFS.

The students will visit 17 universities in the USA, Europe and Asia.

The first 71 first-year students in the Leadership for Change programme were sent abroad for two weeks in September 2010 to get intense exposure to the academic, social, cultural and residential lives of students in the USA. In 2011 the student number more than doubled and universities in Europe were included. In July 2012 the programme brought students from around the globe to the UFS for the Global Leadership Summit.

Prof Jansen inspired the young leaders, saying, “If you learn leadership values in your four years of study, a change will come. Build the new value system and take it into the country. Your capacity for change is limitless.”

He encouraged them to learn to know the stranger, not only abroad, but also the beggar at the street corner. “Learn to be comfortable with the beggar, as well as with the professor in the classroom.”

A stringent evaluation and training programme preceded the group’s visit abroad, and Prof Jansen could not formulate their achievement better: “I cannot tell you how proud I am of you.”

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