The development of commercial cannabis farming

Dr Mfundo Maqubela, Dr Thandeka Ruth Kunene, Amanda Mafanya

  • Duration: 60 min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: December 15, 2020 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
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Cannabis sativa is a controversial plant popularly known for its recreational purposes, but there is more to this plant than meets the eye. It has a variety of medical and industrial uses. The cannabis industry is a fast growing one globally and here in South Africa as more farmers cultivate this plant for the production of medical, beauty and lifestyle products. Join the panel as we unpack this topic.


Dr Mfundo Maqubela was born in Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa on the 24 August 1967. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in Soil Science, at Fort Hare University (Alice) in 1995. His Master’s degree in Agriculture, majoring in Environmental Resource Management, was obtained from the National University of Ireland (Dublin) in 2001. He obtained an Advanced University Diploma, in Education Training and Development, from Potchefstroom University in 2002. His PhD degree in Agriculture, majoring in Soil Science, was obtained from Fort Hare University in 2009. He also obtained a certificate on Executive Development Program in 2018. From 1995 – 2005, he worked at Fort Cox College of Agriculture and Forestry as a lecturer and moved up ranks to senior lecturer position. From 2005 – 2007, he moved up ranks at Fort Cox to be a Manager of Total Quality Assurance and Student Services. In 2007 to date, he worked in the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform and worked as a scientist, senior scientist and assistant manager, a manager in Analytical Services, Director of Technology Transfer Services and now an acting Chief Director of Research and Technology Development Services in the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform. In his PhD worked, Mfundo P Maqubela worked in a European sponsored CYANOSOIL project and investigated the biofertilization and bio conditioning potential of indigenous cyanobacteria strains on degraded soils of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. He worked in three European countries (France, Spain and Italy) and three African countries (SA, Tanzania and Zimbabwe). He found that some of the cyanobacteria strains have biofertilization and/or bio conditioning effects and has four publications.

Dr Thandeka Ruth Kunene is cannabis fanatic that started following cannabis at the age of 14 years after hearing a “dagga smoking tsotsi” say cannabis can make petrol. Since then Thandeka made cannabis her only hobby and started collecting anything and everything cannabis. At the age of 21 (1992), Thandeka decided to formally engage the SA government as responsible adult citizen and a qualified scientist having just received her first academic degree BSc in Applied Mathematics from UCT. At age 28 (1999), having gotten an MBA Magna Cum Lauda, Thandeka turned down a job offer from JP Morgan in London to come set up a hemp company to emulate Anita Rodrick’s Body Shop as Thandeka was convinced that it was a matter of months before cannabis industry took off in South Africa. It was to be 20 years before the country was ready. The name of Thandeka’s first cannabis company was called Hooked on Hemp as she believed that no one would forget such a name. For 20 years and Up to today people still call tease her and ask “What are you hooked on?” At the age of 35 (2007) Thandeka got the government to approve a community based research project to check if indeed hemp can create descent jobs in South African rural conditions. As a devout Rastafari Thandeka believes Jah Provide Cannabis as that Tree of life for the healing of the nations. At the age of 42 (2014) Thandeka started the process of consulting industry stakeholders towards forming one Cannabis industry association of South Africa. Thandeka being one of the founders of the Cannabis. Development Council of South Africa in 2018. Thandeka became the CDCSA first Secretary General. At the age of 49 (2020) Thandeka collected the first to be issued 5 year commercial cannabis license and confirming her as that long standing self-acclaimed Cannabis Queen of South Africa. To secure her title Thandeka created a Royal Crest and legally registered the trademarked “Cannabis Queen ade South” and has been using that title ever since in anything and everything Cannabis That Thandeka is involved in.

Amanda Mafanya comes from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape and currently resides in CapeTown. With a diploma in Film and TV Production Techniques and Advance certificate in Photography and Video Production, Amanda works in the Film Industry and has been a Freelance filmmaker since 2011. Apart from being in the Film Industry, Amanda has a company called Organic Inc. The company is a consultation agency focusing on book publishing and wellness advisory. Amanda also has an online company selling daily supplements under the banner “My Daily Choice” where she not only sells but brings awareness to the use of Hemp under the brand “Hempworx”. Amanda aims to use the film medium to bring more awareness to the uses of Hemp, the importance of agriculture and organic living as it not only attributes to the economy but also contributes to healthier bodies and minds. Mr. Lucius Phaleng is an agricultural economist for Trade Research Unit at National Agricultural Marketing Council. His current role encompasses trade research and advisory in marketing of agricultural commodities. Academically, he holds MSc in Agricultural economics from the University of North-West. The research interests are on international trade policy, non-tariff barriers to trade, trade data analysis and economic modelling.