Table of Contents

See also the “Chemicals in agriculture” chapter.

1. Overview

Chemical crop protection is a worldwide industry with the primary aim to protect and secure safe food production. It is all inclusively referred to as the plant science industry. Products in this industry are commonly referred to as pesticides or agrochemical products, which play a vital role in controlling the pests and diseases that threaten our food supply. The global market for agrochemicals is estimated in the order of $33 390 million.

Biological control uses a pest or disease’s own natural enemies to control the pest or disease. Agents such as friendly fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes or parasitic insects are used to control pests and diseases in both high value, intensive crops and in field crops. This is a rapidly growing area of crop protection and several agents are produced locally in South Africa. Find the “Biocontrol” chapter.

One of the selling points of Conservation Agriculture is weed control. It sees good crop canopy, soil cover and minimal disturbance as contributing 97% of what it takes to control weeds. Find the "Conservation Agriculture" chapter.


Photo used courtesy of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)


2. International business environment


3. Local business environment

Although the South African chemical crop protection market by far the largest is in Africa, it only comprises less than 2 percent of the world market.

The breakdown of chemical crop protection is estimated as follows:

Herbicides 39
Insecticides 27
Fungicides 22
Other 12

In South Africa the plant science industry is presented by CropLife South Africa. Companies importing, manufacturing and distributing agrochemicals are members of CropLife and support the aims of sustainable agriculture: to produce sufficient food and fibre economically and in an environmentally and socially sensitive manner, maintaining the natural resource base for future generations. The industry is committed to Integrated Pest Management as an economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable approach to crop protection.


4. Pollinators

Initiated by the international crop protection industry, a programme called Operation Pollinator is helping farmers in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific boost the number of pollinators on their farms by creating habitats tailored to native insects. Refer to

The South African Pollinator Forum, established in 2014, is steering efforts to protect pollinators under the leadership of the office of the registrar of pesticides in collaboration with representatives from the South African Bee Industry Organization (SABIO), the crop protection industry, Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and others.