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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

Dr Dirk Strydom named 2015 Free State Agriculturist of the Year
2015-11-30

Dr Dirk Strydom, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State, was chosen as the 2015 Free State Agriculturist of the Year by the Agricultural Writers Central Region.
Photo: Sonia Small

Dr Dirk Strydom, a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) at the University of the Free State (UFS), was presented with the title of 2015 Free State Agriculturist of the Year.

Dr Strydom, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, received the award on 23 October 2015 from the Agricultural Writers Central Region, the professional association promoting the image and standards of agricultural journalism in South Africa.

“A driven and ambitious young academic,” is how Dr Strydom is described.

According to the Agricultural Writers, Dr Strydom is blessed with the rare skill of bringing to his engagement with the agricultural community at large the same excitement and focus with which he approaches his students and his research.

“Strydom has perfected the art of disseminating complicated theory, and the intricacies of the South African Futures Exchange to the agricultural community.”

Dr Strydom epitomises the new generation of young scholars emerging from the PSP. This new breed of academic is very aware of the need to translate published scholarly discourse into practical usefulness for the broader public.

Hence Dr Strydom’s emphasis on the duty of the scholar to share vital innovation, intricate research, and its applications, not only with students but with the community at large.

The award is recognition for Dr Strydom’s work by the agricultural community.

He was also the recent recipient of an award from the Brahman breeders for his “outstanding scientific contribution” to their industry.

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