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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 Kovsie friend in need is a Kovsie friend indeed
2015-09-23


Several student organisations have recently started
initiatives to lessen the burden on needy students,
and on the broader community. It is because of
these initiatives that donations of food, commodities
and clothes reached the No Student Hungry (NSH)
Bursary Programme at the University of the Free State.

Photo: René-Jean van der Berg

Kovsie students have often showed that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Several student organisations have recently started initiatives to lessen the burden on needy students, and on the broader community.

It is because of these initiatives that donations of food, commodities and clothes reached the No Student Hungry (NSH) Bursary Programme at the University of the Free State.

The Rag Community Service and NSH offices are extremely grateful to students and staff for their selfless donations, also in respect of the difference these initiatives are making to Kovsies’ chances of having a better future.

The food and commodities will be distributed to the community, while the clothing donations are used for regular clothing sales in order to raise funds.

The food donations included a substantial donation from the support organisation, Gift of the Givers. The organisation heard about the NSH Bursary Programme and, due to the scope of the student-hunger problem, decided to become involved.

“This is an excellent initiative, and the passion with which it is driven motivated us to make a donation,” said Ms Emily Thomas, representative from Gift of the Givers.

Ms Karen Scheepers, Assistant-Director: Student Life responsible for Rag Community Service, said the recent donations and initiatives are proof that the Kovsie community really cares for each other.

“I found it amazing how willing students were to help and to give. From the moment we asked for help, students arrived at our offices with loads of stuff.”

 

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