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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 and Free State department of Agriculture take hands
2007-04-02

During the visit to the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences of the University of the Free State (UFS) were, from the left: Mr Casca Mokitlane (Member of the Executive Committee for Agriculture in the Free State), Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS) and Mr Tshepiso Ramarakane (Head of the Department of Agriculture in the Free State).

Photo: Stephen Collett
 

There is a need for the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Free State Department of Agriculture to work together as partners to pursue the development of agriculture in the province.

Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS and Mr Casca Mokitlane, Member of the Executive Council (MEC) in the Free State, recently held investigative discussions to determine how a more focused strategic leadership for the development of agriculture in the province can be established.

Mr Mokitlane visited the faculty on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein and exchanged information with Prof. Van Schalkwyk on development issues in agriculture. Certain important agricultural issues between the faculty and the department was identified in order to build a more vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry in the province.

A few issues that would contribute to the building of relationships for sectoral development such as agricultural research, the training of small farmers and the department’s guidance officers, the support of community projects and targets for the land reform process were also discussed.

Mr Mokitlane visited nine departments within the faculty, among others the Lengau Agricultural Training Centre, where he had short discussions with prospective black farmers.

According to Prof. Van Schalkwyk thorough training of black emerging farmers was discussed. It was clear to him that small farmers who have already completed their training are a priority for the faculty. Further discussions will continue at a later stage.

Mr Mokitlane was also informed about the research done at the faculty, training programmes offered and the roles the different divisions are playing in terms of community service. Postgraduate students informed the delegates of their specific research and studies.

“We have great appreciation for the time Mr Mokitlane and his colleagues from the Department of Agriculture spent listening to what the faculty can do for agriculture in the Free State and also the rest of the country,” said Prof. Van Schalkwyk.

“Both parties are in agreement that the one cannot function without the other. We must move closer to each other in the interest of agriculture to face the challenges ahead,” said Prof. Van Schalkwyk.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za
30 March 2007

 

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