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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

Minister praises MUCPP initiative
2004-10-04

The Minister of Labour, Mr MMS Mdladlana, singled out the Mangaung University of the Free State Community Partnership Programme (MUCPP) for high praise during a conference at the MUCPP complex on 30 September 2004 .

“I am very pleased with what the partnership of different stakeholders can do and I thank all stakeholders for contributing to this initiative. This is the kind of energy that our country needs,” the minister told delegates to the conference.

He said the MUCPP was a very unusual and important partnership that is related directly to the mandate of government and supports two strategic objectives of government, namely halving poverty and halving unemployment.

The MUCPP was launched in 1991 as a partnership between the University of the Free State , the local community of Mangaung, local and provincial government and the private sector, in an effort to develop skills and contribute to fighting poverty.

Some of the existing projects of the MUCPP include:

  • Health centre (including a 24-hour maternity ward)
  • Dairy producing yoghurt and amasi
  • Sewing and knitting project
  • Indigenous food production (Tsa se tso)
  • Bakery
  • Bed and Breakfast accommodation
  • Etsa phapang (a hydroponic facility growing various vegetables)
  • Welding project
  • Low cost housing project
  • Sport and recreation facilities and programmes

According to the Minister, hundreds of young people, adult learners and people with disabilities have benefited from training and skills development and have become involved in carpentry, welding, painting, cleaning services, gardening and HIV / AIDS awareness programmes.

Minister Mdladlana said he was pleased that through partnerships with several Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) which fall under the Department of Labour, the MUCPP could access hundreds of thousands of rands for such training and development.

“I can just salute those that have made it possible, and to encourage you to keep up the good work,” the minister said.

The MUCPP also provides a means for students of the UFS to render community service. The UFS was one of the first universities in South Africa to adopt a comprehensive community service policy in 2002. In terms of the policy, community service is integrated into curricula through service learning modules.

It is therefore of great importance that the UFS should support community sites such as the MUCPP where a holistic and integrated approach to mutual and reciprocal development of all partners is followed.

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