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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

Graduates take a bow
2014-04-14

Pride, joy, gratitude and cheer echoed across our Bloemfontein Campus this week as we celebrated the 2014 Autumn Graduation Ceremony.

These prestigious ceremonies did not belong to the graduates exclusively, though. Their parents, family, friends and academics also received several bows of gratitude for their support.

The guest speakers provided a wealth of wisdom and encouragement to the graduates. Dr Ruda Landman, well-known media personality, advised that “success doesn’t just happen, it is achieved.” Comedian Loyiso Gola told graduates to go out and conquer the world – a message that Lucas Sithole cemented. Sithole, ranking at Nr 2 in wheelchair tennis world wide, said that the only one who could stand in your way is yourself. “Today, you have power in your hands. Try to change the world with that power.” Siyabulela Xuza, South African rocket scientist and Harvard graduate, was a true embodiment of his words, “We are equally capable of achieving global innovation.”

After the conferral of the degrees and certificates, Prof Jonathan Jansen reminded the graduates that their “degree will mean nothing” if they cannot distinguish between what is right and what is wrong as they go into the world. When faced with a difficult situation, “base your decision on what is right and what is wrong, not on the colour of someone’s skin, the way they pray, or the way they choose to love,” he urged.

Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the UFS, concluded the proceedings by expressing the spirit of this celebration, “I take a bow to you all.”

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