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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

UFS launches a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Observatory, first of its kind in South Africa
2013-12-04

In cooperation with its partners, the Centre for Development Support at the University of the Free State (UFS), launched the SME Observatory at a function on the Bloemfontein Campus. This initiative is the first of its kind in South Africa. 
 
According to Willem Ellis, Director of the Centre for Development Support, this is a public-private partnership between the UFS, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (detea), which aims to gather information for research on small and medium enterprises. “With this research we will endeavour to empower policy formulators to make the right decisions in terms of development on a local, provincial and national level,” Ellis said. 
 
Presentations and the panel discussion at the launch covered topics such as: 
  • How many enterprises can survive in a town?
  • Are entrepreneurs being set up for failure? 
  • Is SMEs the answer to the unemployment question? 
  • The cost of red tape: is SMEs being tied down? 

To demonstrate the applicability of the enterprise architect for issues relating to enterprise policy, as well as entrepreneurship strategies, it was decided to focus the pilot phase of the observatory on towns in the Free State. Dr Daan Toerien, research associate at the Centre for Development Support, and Johannes Wessels, Project Manager of the SME Observatory, compiled the report: “50 Towns in the Free State: What the Enterprise Architecture of these towns is telling us about Entrepreneurial Space.” 
 
In his presentation at the launch, Dr Toerien said: “The Enterprise Observatory’s prime goal is to present valuable facts and insights about enterprises in the domains it is observing.” He has developed a database that contains information on a large number of South African towns. He said that studying the enterprise architecture of towns will contribute significantly to inform the policy and strategy debate on LED and enterprise development. “These activities will add valuable data and insights to approach entrepreneurship in the Free State and, after the pilot phase, also in other provinces in South Africa. The Free State government, district and local municipalities, and the consultant fraternity serving them, should find the SME observatory’s activities of value,” he said. 
 
Wessels said that the SME Observatory of South Africa is dedicated to base its arguments on sound theory, science and applied research; to engage policy and decision makers on an evidence-based approach; operate in a politically non-aligned mode in order to mirror truthfully the impact of policies and decisions and to partner with policy makers, entrepreneurs, public administration, think tanks, research institutions, business representatives and NGOs on building networks and alliances to promote an open and competitive enterprise environment.

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