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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

Academic excellence rewarded
2013-09-12

The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences are committed to recognising excellence so as to raise the bar of achievement across its study programmes. This is the view of the Dean, Prof Neil Heideman, during the faculty's prize-giving ceremony to honour the best students of the first semester at the Qwaqwa Campus.

“This excellent performance is evidence that this campus can do with more post-graduation studies to stimulate research,” said Prof Heideman.

“To those who have received awards today – you are indeed role models. Work harder, as you have a very bright future ahead. Challenge yourself to read more so that you can then improve your researching skills,” Prof Heideman said.

The faculty awarded accolades to 39 students who excelled in 54 modules. The best achiever for the semester was Samantha Renda, who averaged 92% in all five her BSc Honours (Zoology and Entomology) modules.


Samantha Renda being congratulated by Prof Heideman.
Photo: Thabo Kessah
12 September 2013

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