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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

Agri-pedia a valuable tool for the farmer
2013-10-03

 

03 October 2013

Agri-pedia, an internet-based facility to assist the farmer in a whole array of topics, was launched at the university.

This ground-breaking new education tool was developed by die UFS in partnership with the private sector to bridge the gap between agricultural science and successful farming. Experience of more than a thousand years is pulled together in the project.

Topics vary from farm management and planning, market information, geographic information and maps, to beekeeping, flower production, the farm home and many more.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said at the Agri-pedia launch it is a myth that education only happen in schools. At Nampo he was amazed to see the level of education on farms, done by farmers. “Another myth is that education is the task of government – there is a tardiness and lack of concern.

“You don’t change schools with government, but with partnerships. Agri-pedia will not be possible without partnerships.”

The launch of Agri-pedia happened against the background that food security in the world is under threat. About 840 million people are chronically experiencing malnourishment. Included in this figure are 200 million children under the age of 15 in the developing world. By 2020 nearly 70% of people suffering malnutrition will live in sub-Sahara Africa and in South Asia.

The agricultural sector must be assisted to shift from subsistence farming to sustainable food production and economic development.

For more information, visit www.agripedia.co.za or send an email to admin@agripedia.co.za.

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