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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Use of medicinal plants on the rise

Farmers, research institutes and academic institutions have started conducting field trials and commercial cultivation of medicinal plant species that are in high demand.

Prof Francis Lewu, HoD: Agriculture, said this during his Inaugural Professorial Address titled, “Cultivation and Conservation of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs): an Interface between Botany and Agronomy”.

The C3 National Research Foundation- rated established scholar was appointed a full professor of Plant Science in 2018 after he had been Associate Professor at CPUT since 2013.

Lewu said that a global increase in the demand of medicinal plant products is estimated to be worth R2.9 billion per annum. He added that in South Africa a large business venture has been created in the interest of plant-derived medicines with an estimated value of R270 million per annum.

“Specifically in KwaZulu-Natal, it is estimated that 1.9 tons of indigenous African ginger is traded annually,” he added. “The aerial part of the Khoisan traditional plant “Buchu” is sold at R840/kg, and the seeds are sold for R20 000/kg.”

He observed that the utilisation of MAPs as a source of primary health care to human beings and their livestock is an inherited practice which has been passed down from one generation to the next. Lewu said 80% of black South Africans use MAPs mainly for herbal drugs or condiments.

“On a global scale, an estimated 70-80% of the world’s population relies mainly on MAPs for their primary healthcare needs and the global demand for herbal medicine is growing,” he observed.

He said that between 1991 and 2000 the international trade in MAPs was dominated by 12 countries including temperate Asia and Europe, where the former was responsible for 42% of the annual global importation, and the latter 34%.

“Over the past three decades, the demand for MAPs across the world has tremendously increased, with consistent annual increase in demand by up to 15% in Europe, North America and Asia.”

In South Africa, Lewu has graduated nine Masters and two Doctoral students and currently supervises four PhD candidates.

“Currently, we are investigating fertilizer requirements for the proper establishment of the species on cultivated land,” said Lewu. “The first of the trials are completed, and two Masters students are compiling their reports at CPUT.”

As South Africans celebrate Women’s month to pay homage to the brave and fearless women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956, CPUT announces its commitment to increasing the number of female researchers.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Do it with Bambara Groundnut

From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining natural resources – Prof Victoria Jideani from the Food Science and Technology Department, dubbed Professor Bambara by many at the institution, has the solution.

A senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences is the lead author of a new study which holds great promise for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.

The first pilot plant at the new Chemical Engineering building is up and running and aims to benefit the textile industry.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Academic awarded CSUR grant

Growing up Dr Stanton Hector showed a passion for science and loved growing plants from seeds.

A recent trip to Mendel University in the Czech Republic has furnished Oenology lecturer Anton Nel with an expanded sample selection for his doctoral studies.