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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

NSH breaking the cycle of poverty
2015-09-28

In was a joyous occasion for the Hlomuka family when their last-born walked across the stage to receive her degree. Spontaneous ululating sounded from the crowd as Nozipo Hlomuka knelt before the Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Khotso Mokhele, who conferred her degree.

“At that moment, I thought ‘this is really and finally happening’,” says the young teacher from Qwaqwa, who received a B Ed degree at the spring graduation.

At that moment time stood still for Nozipo, who once believed that, because of financial difficulties, this day would never come.

Across our three campuses, there are many students in similar positions to Nozipo. As many as 60% of students on our campuses are food-insecure, and suffer from hunger. The No Student Hungry Bursary Programme as established in 2011 to provide food-insecure students with a modest food bursary.

In 2014, just when Nozipo thought she could no longer continue studying, she became the recipient of an NSH-bursary.

Although receiving a degree is a huge achievement for Nozipo, her parents, too, were overcome with emotion, to see the first of their five daughters reach this academic milestone. Having only finished grade 8, Mrs Notula Hlomuka, Nozipo’s mother, says it was important for her to see her children finish school, at least. Mrs Hlomuka sold fruit and vegetables which provided the family’s only income.

“It was not always easy. It was never easy. Sometimes, there was no money and not enough to eat, and your children must go to school hungry. We could not afford new clothes for all the children, and the school uniforms were handed down to the younger sibling ending with Nozipo. Those were difficult days. It’s over now. God provided.”


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