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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

A PhD in full colour!
2014-10-28

In October 2014, Cindé Greyling presented a PhD paper at the second biennial conference of the Southern Africa Society for Disaster Reduction (SASDiR) in Windhoek, Namibia. Titled “A narrative communication approach towards drought resilience for foundation phase children”, she explored innovative ways to encourage drought resilience. “It was a fascinating journey that is nearing its end,” Greyling says about her disaster management studies at DiMTEC.

The study comprised adapting a communication model to address the specific preferences of foundation-phase children. This was used as a guide to code essential drought risk-reduction information into a comprehensible format for the chosen target audience. “Whereas I’m proficient in writing, drawing was altogether new – which you can clearly tell!” During the course of her research, Greyling roamed through drought data, curriculums, bestselling entertainment products, global children’s culture and an array of language and communication avenues. “What a pleasure it was to revisit familiar bodies of knowledge, and navigate unfamiliar territory!” Under guidance of study leader, Dr Lydie Terblanche, and co-study leader, Dr Andries Jordaan, Greyling believes that an important contribution to resilience is probable, as well as creating opportunities for further research.

“Not many people can say they created a picture book for their PhD... How lucky I am!” Greyling concludes.

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