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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

International Association of Hydrogeologists strengthens ties with IGS
2015-03-31

 

From the left are: Prof Neil Heideman, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Mr Shammy Puri, secretary-general of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, and Prof Danie Vermeulen, Director of the Institute for Groundwater Studies.
Photo: Supplied

The Institute for Groundwater Studies (IGS) is in the process of establishing a SADC Groundwater Management Institute, sponsored by the World Bank. To coincide with this process, the IGS received a visit from Mr Shammy Puri, the secretary-general of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH).

“The aim of the visit was to further cooperation between the IAH and IGS regarding transboundary aquifers in the SADC region,” said Prof Danie Vermeulen, Director at the IGS.

The International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH/AIH) is a scientific and educational charitable organisation for scientists, engineers, water managers, and other professionals working in the fields of groundwater resource planning, management, and protection.  The IAH is the leading international society for the science and practice of hydrogeology, and is a globally recognised information source and facilitator for the transfer of groundwater knowledge.

Mr Shammy Puri was elected Secretary-General of IAH in 2008, and chaired the Commission on Transboundary Aquifer Resources Management (TARM) from 1998 to 2011.

During his visit, Mr Puri also presented lectures to the postgraduate students at the Institute on Transboundary Aquifers. He was also invited by the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Neil Heideman, to present the faculty prestige lecture later this year.

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