Unlocking indigenous knowledge to innovate products in health, beauty, and nutrition.

The Indigenous Knowledge Programme (IKS) promotes, develops and protects indigenous knowledge systems by providing research and product development support in the health, beauty, and nutrition sectors. IKS supports unlocking the value of indigenous plant species for pharmaceutical, commercial development, protecting unique knowledge, methods, technologies and innovations developed by communities. The aim is to empower communities with the knowledge and skills to commercialise these into products that are safe and effective.


  • Research, product development, technologies, services and process development of indigenous products
  • Natural medicine, food, nutritional and cosmetic product development


Indigenous Knowledge System supports private sector businesses, particularly SMMEs, and health practitioners in research and development. It also helps to upskill talent in the field of biotechnology and pharmacology, while unlocking the value of indigenous plant species for commercial development and for the empowerment of communities.

Industry Sectors

The team at the University of Free State (UFS) and CSIR is responsible for the research and development of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) into commercial products. They enforce the health standards in manufacturing, to ensure a legitimate health benefit, consumer confidence and safety of products.

UFS and CSIR welcomes functional and mutually beneficial partnerships with communities to develop indigenous products while protecting their heritage.
These includes:

  • SMME’s in the natural indigenous product sectors
  • Traditional health practitioners
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing industry
  • FMCG retail industry

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Indigenous Products of South Africa

Indigenous Herbal Infusions

Our indigenous teas are made from carefully selected herbs used in African traditional beverages over time. They are natural, proven safe, and offer nutritional and medicinal benefits. Please see the product range that is commercially available.


Indigenous Knowledge Development UFS
Indigenous Products of South Africa

Cannabis Personal Care

Our range of cannabis personal care products has been developed as part of the African natural medicine platform in South Africa, in collaboration with SMME partners. Please see the range of high-quality, regulatory-compliant cannabis-based products that are commercially available.


  • Progress for traditional medicine in disease-fighting arsenal.
  • UFS exhibits products and services at WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit.
  • Chinese Embassy visit strengthens UFS international collaboration in research and health.
  • WHO to lead high-level visit to the African Medicines Innovation and Technology Development Platform in Bloemfontein.
  • Enabling local innovation to grow the health sector.
  • BIO Africa convention seeks to advance Africa's bioeconomy.
  • Celebrating Women's Month 2023 under the theme "Accelerating socio-economic opportunities for women's empowerment."
  • The future of science, technology and innovation among BRICS countries is bright.