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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

Centre presents summer school for students in sustainable agriculture and rural development
2007-10-11

The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development at the University of the Free State (UFS) is presenting a summer school during the first two weeks of October 2007 on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein. The purpose of the summer school is to provide subject guidance to the centre’s distance-learning students and to summarise the year’s assignments. Approximately 50% of the centre’s students are from international origin, e.g. the Southern African Developing Community (SADC), central and northern Africa and countries as far as Canada, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Europe. The centre had a screened intake of 52 new students this year. The highlight of the summer school was a lecture by Prof. Edward Nesamvuni, extraordinary professor at the centre and General Manager for Research in the Department of Agriculture of Limpopo, on the role of agricultural research in the progress of rural communities. From the left are, front: Prof. Nesamvuni and Prof. Izak Groenewald (Director of the UFS Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development); back: Mr Khathu Tshikolomo (Senior Manager: Crop Production, Limpopo), Ms Jane Tshovhote (Manager of the Giyani Municipality, Limpopo) and Mr Maanda Dagada (Manager of Land and Agrarian Reform, Limpopo). All three are registered as Ph.D. students at the centre.
Photo: Lacea Loader
 

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