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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

Learning to serve, serving to learn
2013-10-18

 

At the Community Engagement Open Day were, at the back, from the left: Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations; and Rev Billyboy Ramahlele, Director of Community Engagement. In front are, from the left: Selby Lengoabala, Betlehem Unit Manager; Councillor Job Tshabalala, Acting Executive Mayor; and Councillor Isaac Tshabalala, Strategic Manager in the office of the Executive Mayor of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality.
18 October 2013

The university held its first Community Engagement Open Day in order to honour outstanding individuals and highlight programmes that advance its civil responsibility. Hosted by the UFS Community Engagement Directorate, local community members, students and staff gathered in the Callie Human Centre at the Bloemfontein Campus, displaying what they do to empower communities.

Partners in Community Engagement (CE) and Service Learning (SL), local government, community-based research, student volunteer groups, Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) and private business interacted with guests at their various information stalls. Faculties and departments displayed their distinctive programmes and demonstrated a renewed commitment to change lives through sharing knowledge, rendering services and fostering empowerment among communities.

In recognition of outstanding service, commitment and excellence in the field of community engagement and service learning, some staff members, researchers and some partners received the Vice-Rector’s Award for Community Engagement. Among them was Prof Matie Hoffman, who was honoured for his longstanding involvement in research at the Boyden Observatory. He is currently at the forefront of renovations for the planetarium at Naval Hill. In the category for external partners, REACH and Heidedal Childcare were awarded for demonstrating commitment towards their partnership with the university. The acting Executive Mayor, Job Tshabalala, also received an award on behalf of Dihlabeng Local Municipality Mayor, Tjhetane Mofokeng, for their involvement in education and social cohesion programmes. During his keynote address, the Director of Community Engagement, Rev Billyboy Ramahlele, emphasised the contribution that community engagement has on the two major strategic programmes of the university, namely the Academic and Human Projects. He pointed out that CE creates a platform on which students learn to appreciate human diversity in a real and unprotected set-up.

The interactions of the Open Day are expected to raise awareness, cultivate understanding among partners, encourage solid alliances and bring to the fore an acknowledgement of community engagement as the integral part of higher education.

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