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.

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

International business environment

The key global producers are Canada, China, EU and India, with a production share of 24%, 19%, 33% and 10% respectively. These countries make up 86% of global canola production.

[Source: Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz, Commentary: Canola Market (16 Aug 2016 and 1 Dec 2016)]

Some international websites:

  • 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.
  • Find the monthly “Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade” on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service Home Page. The address is

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.

South Africa’s canola production has increased significantly over the past 19 years. The area planted peaked at 95 thousand hectares in 2014 before dropping in subsequent years. The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) suggests that the introduction of better adapted high yielding canola varieties, together with the associated benefits of including canola as part of a winter crop rotation, could see an average increase of canola plantings exceeding 120 thousand hectares by 2026 (BFAP, 2017).

All of these developments have largely been driven by growing domestic demand.

  • 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. There is potential here since large quantities of protein for animal feeds have to be imported every year.
  • 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.

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%

Source: Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz, Commentary: Canola Market (16 Aug 2016 and 1 Dec 2016); Canola Market Value Chain Profile at and Canola brochure from the same website; correspondence from Petrus Fouche, PhytoEnergy Group.

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 (OPOT).

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, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) 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 (OPOT) Tel: 011 234 3400
  • Oilseeds Advisory Committee As for OPOT
  • 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

  • Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) The BFAP 2016-2025 evaluates canola’s competitiveness compared to wheat and barley, among other things.
  • NOSA Agricultural Services Tel: 033 345 8990/9238
  • Protein Research Foundation Prof Andrè Agenbag Tel: 011 803 2579/ 1894
  • South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) Tel: 012 941 2050

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


Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier in this chapter.

  • Find the annual Canola Market Value Chain Profile on the Directorate Marketing web pages at
  • Find the latest BFAP Baseline Agricultural Outlook at
  • 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.).

Sources for the chapter: the Canola Market Value Chain Profile 2014 at; Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz, Commentary: Canola Market (16 Aug 2016 and 1 Dec 2016); the BFAP Baseline Agricultural Outlooks 2015 – 2024, 2016-2025, 2017-2026; SAGIS; Petrus Fouché (PhytoEnergy Group)

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