Canola, Brassica Napus, (also known as rapeseed) 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 and China. The major exporter is Canada with the EU a distant second. The EU, China and Japan are the major importers (USDA, 2021).


Further reference:
  • In its Baseline 2020-2029, the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) noted that in the Overberg (Caledon) region in South Africa, canola yields have averaged around 1.60 tonnes per hectare from 2015 to 2018, approximately 1.35 tonnes per hectare lower than the international sample average of 2.97 tonnes per hectare. 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


South Africa: import and export

The perfect year, weather wise, saw South Africa exporting canola for the first time ever – 30 000 tonnes, to Europe. This has set the scene for another great season with canola prices trading at record levels and producers moving from barley to canola (BFAP, 2021).


The Southern African Grain Laboratory

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, refer to a heading below.

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


Notes from Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2021-2030:

Ten years ago, the total South African canola crop amounted to 36 900 tonnes from 34 800 ha. 2020 saw 167 000 tonnes of canola delivered! The increase is attributed to:

  • improved seed technology
  • better farming practices, and
  • active marketing of canola as a viable rotational crop in the winter rainfall regions.

Also, lockdown regulations have introduced challenges to the barley and beer sector, leading to more farmers switching to canola.

The market opportunity for canola lies (i) in the production of canola meal for the feed industry and (ii) vegetable oil for human consumption. Because South Africa is a net importer in both of these market segments, significant investments in processing of canola created the required “demand pull” for the industry to expand.

BFAP expects a favourable long-term outlook for canola, rising to 244 000 tonnes over the next decade.

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 2021-2030; correspondence from Petrus Fouche, PhytoEnergy Group.


Further reference:

  1. Statistics (e.g. crop estimates, export/import etc) may be found at and See also the Monthly Bulletin on the SAGIS website.
  2. Find the Grading Regulations for canola and the requirements for grain exports at

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

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

Role players

Associations and non-profit companies


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
  • South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS)

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.

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