A group of scientists at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) led by Associate Professor Jeremy Klaasen of the Department of Medical Biosciences, have been researching the potential pharmaceutical uses and green economy commercial applications of kraalbos for a number of years.
Some promising discoveries have already been made regarding its potential agricultural uses.
For centuries, the Khoisan people used kraalbos (Galenia africana ) to treat various diseases and conditions, including toothache, skin ailments, inflammation, dandruff and venereal diseases.
Now Prof. Klaasen and his team have developed a product derived from kraalbos that can reverse the resistance of crop pathogens, when applied in combination with conventional pesticides.
“This is an important discovery, as resistance to pesticides tends to develop after prolonged and extensive periods of use, resulting in the spreading of pesticide-resistant superbugs,” said Prof Klaasen, who holds an MSc (Microbiology) from UWC as well as a PhD (Plant Pathology) from Pennsylvania State University.
“Reducing pesticide-resistance of pathogens to pesticides (fungicides and bactericides) is always a serious challenge in agricultural pest management strategies.”
Aside from being a natural pesticide, this kraalbos product, developed as part of UWC’s Indigenous Botanical Adjuvant Technology (iBATECH) Project, reduces the dose of pesticide required to spray crops, thereby decreasing environmental contamination by commercial pesticides.
The iBATECH product, which has been patented by UWC, is registered for use on tunnel tomatoes.
UWC is involved in discussions with agrochemical companies on the possibility of licensing the pesticide, and registering the product for use in South Africa and internationally. The project was funded by the Technology Innovation Agency, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology.