Canola, Brassica Napus, (also known as rape seed) is an oilseed crop. It is an excellent rotation crop, and should be used to increase profits of crops such as maize and wheat. Advantages include the lowering of root knot nematodes and Phytophtera.

The growing of canola needs good management. Special care should be taken with harvesting of the small pips. Road and rail trucks need to be sealed tightly in order to prevent losses in transit.

Canola is primarily used for manufacturing of the following:

  • Canola oil (crude oil and bottled oil-used as a salad and frying oil, in margarines, shortenings and in foods that contain vegetable oil such as baked goods, potato chips, French fries, etc.).
  • Canola oil biodiesel
  • Canola based mayonnaise
  • Canola oil cake
  • Canola meal (the by-product of canola oil processing, used as a high protein feed ingredient in the rations of animals)
  • Canola can be used for forage for pigs and poultry.
Source: Canola Market Value Chain Profile at and Canola brochure from the same website.

International business environment

The major producer of canola is Canada, followed by the EU, China and India. The major exporter is Canada with the EU a distant second. The EU, China and Japan are the major importers (USDA, 2020).


Further reference:
  • In its study the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2018-2027 found that canola yields in the Southern Cape production region are lagging behind Northern Hemisphere producers. The BFAP prototype farm’s yields compared well with Southern Hemisphere growers – except when cost of production is taken into account. The higher cost was “mainly driven by the cost of seed and fertilisers”. Find the document at
  • Find the monthly “Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade” on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service Home Page. The address is
  • www.canola-council.orgCanola Council of Canada
  • – a Canadian website for “everyone who wants to know more about the world’s healthiest oil”.
  • Oilseed information is also available on the Oil World website at a fee.

Local business environment

Find the Grading Regulations for canola and the requirements for grain exports at

Canola is an oilseed crop grown mainly in the winter rainfall regions of the Western Cape, although it is also farmed in the North West, Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces. It competes with barley and wheat when farmers choose what to grow, and with other plant oils, mainly sunflower oil and soy oil, for the local market.

In South Africa, canola is primarily used for the manufacturing of canola oil and oil cake. Farmers save the balance for planting purposes for the next season.

Canola is a good source of protein in animal feed and large quantities of protein for animal feeds have to be imported every year. This is a gap and suggests potential for this crop.

The market for bottled canola oil has room for growth because it is not well known among consumers. It is also fairly unknown in the industrial deep-frying market. Regarding its potential for biofuels, please refer to the block below.

The canola marketing season in South Africa commences on 1 October and ends on 30 September the following year.

Statistics (e.g. crop estimates, export/import etc) may be found at and See also the Monthly Bulletin on the SAGIS website.

Notes from Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2019-2028:

  • South Africa has been self sufficient in canola production in recent years and is expected to remain so.
  • The current estimated canola crushing capacity of 175 thousand tonnes is sufficient to process projected volumes until 2025, after which it will need to be expanded to reach the 195 thousand tonnes projected by 2028.
  • Canola prices are expected to continue trading between import parity and export parity levels, increasing by an annual average of 2.5% over the next decade. This is less than general inflation and entails a modest decline in real terms.

The case for canola-based biodiesel

According to Petrus Fouché of the PhytoEnergy Group, canola is a crop with enormous economic potential for producing biodiesel.


  • Diesel based on other feedstock freezes as low as – 5 to -8ºC. Canola based biodiesel is safe as far down as -22ºC and meets the strict EU quality specifications.
  • In contrast to food or biofuel, with canola it is food and biofuel, as 60 % of the crop is used for feed, while the crop rotation increases both maize and wheat yields for up to 4 years, thus increasing food production on less hectares. The added dual purpose pasture opportunity further increases food production.
  • The oil content is higher than other feedstock used in South Africa i.e. 36 – 42 % vs. soybeans 20% & sunflower 30%
Sources: Canola Market Value Chain Profile at and Canola brochure from the same website; Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2019-2028; correspondence from Petrus Fouche, PhytoEnergy Group; previous commentary by Wandile Sihlobo (Agbiz) on the canola market.

For the newcomer

  • The “Brochure Canola” and “Production guidelines canola” provide grower notes covering climatic requirements, soil requirements, planting fertilisation, irrigation, weed control, harvesting etc. Find it at (find publications under the “Resource Centre” option).
  • Find the videos on growing canola at, website of the Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust (OPDT).

National strategy and government contact

Canola is identified in the National Development Plan as a sector with better than average growth, although it is a small sector and not a labour-intensive one.

  • Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Directorate Plant Production Tel: 012 319 6072
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) 

Role players

Associations and non-profit companies

  • Grain SA Tel: 0860 047 246
  • Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust (OPDT) Tel: 011 234 3400
  • Oilseeds Advisory Committee As for OPDT
  • South African Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association (SACOTA)
  • South African Cultivar & Technology Agency (SACTA)
  • South African Grain Information Services (SAGIS) Tel: 012 941 2050
  • South African Oil Processors Association (SAOPA) Tel: 082 533 0692 bakerjc [at]


Training and research

  • AgriSETA-accredited training providers and agricultural colleges.
  • Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) The annual BFAP Baseline evaluates canola’s competitiveness compared to wheat and barley, among other things.
  • Protein Research Foundation Tel: 011 803 2579/ 1894
  • South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) Tel: 012 941 2050

Refer to the “Agricultural education & training” page for universities, agricultural colleges and other sources of training.



Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.

  • Find the annual Canola Market Value Chain Profile on the DALRRD Directorate Marketing web pages at
  • CD Roms from the ARC-PPR (Plant Protection Research) include: (i) Crop Pests, Vol. 4: Field Crops and Pastures Pastures  (ii) Medically Important Spiders And Scorpions Of Southern Africa. Write to booksales [at] or infopri [at]
  • Find the latest BFAP Baseline Agricultural Outlook at
  • Consult the AgriSETA Learner Guide Primary Agriculture “Harvesting agricultural crops”.
  • Find the Canola Growers’ Manual on the website of the Canola Council of Canada,
  • Find the canola grower notes under the “Resource centre” option at
  • Production guidelines can also be found on (find the “Agricultural development info” option).
  • Canolafokus and Oilseeds Focus are two publications available from the Protein Research Foundation. Download them at and Find other resources here too like videos of presentations, grower notes etc.
  • – the SAGIS website for statistics (national stocks, producer deliveries, imports, exports, consumption, weekly parity prices, historical information, etc.)

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