Home AgriSETA AgriSETA Learner Connect: Meet a biotechnologist

AgriSETA Learner Connect: Meet a biotechnologist

Biotechnologist Thandekile Moganedi (29) has built a better butternut. Just think what you could do if you followed in her footsteps

Thandekile Moganedi (29) is a biotechnologist at Starke Ayres seed company. Photo: Supplied

Biotechnologist Thandekile Moganedi (29) sees going to work daily as more than a job. “I’m able to directly impact people’s lives by feeding the nation,” she says.

Every day she is using biotechnology tools to assist in the development and testing of new vegetable varieties. She works with natural biological systems adapted to operate outside living systems, like in the laboratory.

Doing her job means that you need to be passionate about science, pay attention to detail and be methodical and inquisitive. “Never cease to dream big but always be prepared to put in the hard work in order to make your dreams a reality,” is her advice to young South Africans.

If you love mathematics and science then you should consider taking this career path. Follow the advice below to find out more about getting involved. Over the next few weeks we will feature many more careers to choose from in the agri sector on Food for Mzansi and 19 radio stations all over the country.

Ok, now it’s over to Thandekile Moganedi, biotechnologist at Starke Ayres:

1Could you sum up your job for us? I use biotechnology tools to assist in the development and testing of superior vegetable varieties. Biotechnology tools are often natural systems that exist in biology, but have been adapted to be performed outside living systems such as in the lab.

2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail? I do tasks in the laboratory. Doing DNA extractions (these three letters mean deoxyribonucleic acid) I make a picture of the molecules that contains the instructions an organism needs to develop, live and reproduce. Also doing polymerase chain reactions (PCR) to make millions to billions of copies of a specific DNA sample. With these scientific tools I can analyse the information about our seeds and select the best seeds to breed or improve it to be pest resistent or grow more crops.


What qualification do you need for this career? A qualification in biological sciences.

4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job? Be passionate about science, pay attention to detail, be methodical and inquisitive.

5What subjects do I need to become a biotechnologist? Mathematics, life sciences and physical sciences.

6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in? You get to do more than a job, but make a direct impact in people lives. Our seeds support feeding the nation.

7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments? Being involved in the development of genetic markers that can be used in breeding for resistance against an important pest in butternuts. Now we can develop butternut varieties that are not harmed by this pest and increase crop yields.

8What do you do when you’re not at work? I’m a mother and a wife to some awesome individuals. I enjoy travelling, leading a healthy lifestyle, making and eating good food.

9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect? Never cease to dream big, but always be prepared to put in the hard work in order to make your dreams a reality.

10Where can I study to become a biotechnologistVarious universities such as the University of Pretoria and universities of technology such as Tswane University of Technology (TUT) and the Vaal University of Technology (VUT).

How to listen to AgriSETA Learner Connect:

Option 1: Click here to listen on Spotify (all mobile and other devices).
Option 2: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Option 3: Click here to listen on Google Podcasts.
Option 4: Click here listen using this player. Just click “play”.

Catch AgriSETA Learner Connect on these radio stations:

  1. Waterberg Stereo: Bela Bela, Brits, Naboomspruit, Pietersburg, Pretoria, Thabazimbi, Tzaneen  – 104.9 FM
  2. Waterberg Stereo: Thabazimbi, Naboomspruit – 104.9 FM
  3. Laeveld Stereo: Nelspruit – 100.5 FM
  4. Lichvaal Stereo: Lichtenburg – 92.6 FM
  5. Overvaal Stereo: Viljoenskroon, Parys – 96.1 FM
  6. Maluti FM: Bethlehem – 97.1 FM
  7. Rosestad FM: Bloemfontein – 100.6 FM
  8. Wild Coast FM: East London – 98.6 FM
  9. Gamka FM: Oudtshoorn – 87.6 FM
  10. Kouga FM: Humansdorp – 97.8 FM
  11. Eden FM: Hessequa, Kannaland, Karoo, Oudtshoorn, Plettenbergbaai, Riversdale, Uniondale – 93.8 FM
  12. Radio Overberg: Bredasdorp – 98.4 FM
  13. Caledon FM: Caledon – 89.3 FM
  14. Whale Coast FM: Hermanus – 96.0 FM
  15. West Coast FM: Vredenburg – 92.3 FM
  16. Lara FM: Springbok – 91.6 FM
  17. NFM: Okiep – 98.1 FM
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