Agricultural Research is the fourth of the four pillars of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP). Visit for more information.

The aim in identifying new and emerging technologies in the South African context is not only to increase global competitiveness, but also to ensure household food security and to assist the developing farmers in entering the mainstream.

Agriculture, being a primary industry, supports many other industries roughly to the ratio of 1:1,6 regarding job opportunities. Apart from food security, it is a catalyst for the alleviation of poverty and economic growth generally.

Source: National Agricultural Research and Development Strategy 2008, which can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) website,

International business environment


Some role players:



  • AARINENA Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa –
  • AATF African Agricultural Technology Foundation –
  • ASARECA The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa –
  • ATPS African Technology Policy Studies Network –
  • CAADP Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme –
  • CCARDESA Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research & Development for Southern Africa –
  • CORAF/WECARD West and Central African Council for Agricultural and Research Foundation –
  • FARA Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa –
  • Futures Agricultures
  • PROLINNOVA – Promoting Local Innovation (in ecologically-orientated agriculture and natural resource management) –
  • ReNAPRI Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes –
  • Semi-Arid Food Grain Research and Development – find information at
  • WARDA Africa Rice Centre –


The Americas


Asia and Australia



  • COPAC Academic and National Library Catalogue: free access to the merged online catalogues of 24 of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland –
  • EIARD European Initiative for Agricultural Research and Development –
  • ELASA – Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations –



Several United Nations agencies are role players in the area of Science and Research, and also have a presence in South Africa. Visit These include United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and United Nations Information Centre (UNIC).

  • AGORA Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture –
  • ASTI Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators –
  • CABI Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International –
  • CGIAR The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research The website is an excellent orientation to groupings and research publications worldwide.
  • CIAT International Centre for Tropical Agriculture –
  • CIMMYT Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre) –
  • CIP International Potato Centre –
  • CIRAD La Recherche Agronomique Pour le Développement (Agricultural Research for Developing Countries) –
  • CTA Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Co-operation –
  • ELDIS – a service for searching resources on African agricultural research –
  • ESASTAP European South African Science and Technology Advancement Programme –
  • FAPRI Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) –
  • ICARDA International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas –
  • ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre –
  • ICRISAT International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics –
  • IFDC International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development –
  • IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute –
  • IITA International Institute for Tropical Agriculture –
  • ILRI International Livestock Research Institute –
  • IPPC International Plant Protection Convention –
  • IRRI International Rice Research Institute –
  • RIU Research Into Use – This programme aims to improve access to knowledge and technology for poor people whose livelihoods depend on natural resources. It also helps secure funds for teams who are doing promising research.
  • RUFORUM Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture –
  • Scientoons (scientific concepts explained with cartoons) –
  • UIS UNESCO Institute for Statistics –
  • WorldFish 

Local business environment

Agricultural research is carried out by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), the Water Research Commission (WRC), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Higher Educational Institutions through their agriculture schools and faculties, and the nine provincial departments of agriculture. Compared to developing (and some developed) countries, a high percentage of research happens through private research institutions too.

The OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – see] recognises South Africa’s agriculture sector as among the least supported in the world. South Africa’s Producer Support Estimate is currently 3,2%, versus 4,6% for Brazil, 7,1% for the US, and 18,6% for the OECD. Of particular concern is the lack of attention to Research & Development (R&D). According to the 2009/10 R&D survey conducted by HSRC on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (the most recent survey for which the results are available), agriculture accounted for only 6,9% of South Africa’s total R&D spend. This state of affairs can in part be explained by the absence of a compelling, widely-supported strategy and implementation plan.

Source: Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) (adapted)

Read about the National Agricultural Research and Development Strategy (NARDS) and the Bio-Economy Strategy under “National strategy & government contact”.

The Southern African Grain Laboratory

Science Councils of South Africa

Agricultural Research Council (ARC) – see later heading  –
The ARC promotes agriculture and related sectors through research, technology development and technology transfer.


Council for Geoscience (CGS)
Geological, geophysical and palaeontological research supplying geological information to the Government and the public


Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR)
The CSIR in South Africa performs multidisciplinary research and technological innovation with the aim of contributing to industrial development and the quality of life of people of this country.


Council for Mineral Technology (Mintek)
Mintek enables the minerals industry to operate more effectively, by developing and making available the most appropriate and cost-effective technology.


Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
The HSRC facilitates problem solving and enhances decision making through research excellence in the human sciences.


Medical Research Council (MRC)
The MRC improves the nation’s health status and quality of life through relevant and excellent health research aimed at promoting equity and development.


National Research Foundation (NRF)
The NRF is South Africa’s premier agent for investing in knowledge and innovation across all disciplines of the natural sciences and engineering, as well as social sciences and humanities.


South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)
Responsible for the development and publication of standards for products and services

National strategy and government contact

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)

  • Directorate Education, Training and Extension Services
    Tel: 012 319 7028
  • Directorate: Research & Technology Development Tel: 012 319 6078

The Secretariat of the National Agricultural Research Forum (NARF) is housed in the Research & Technology Development directorate. Partners in NARF include national and provincial government, universities and universities of technology, private research organisations and the private sector. NARF developed the NARDS, which sets out “key areas of technological development” – national priorities – along with a brief overview of each. NARDS has been adopted but has not been implemented yet. Find the document at


South African Revenue Services (SARS)

Read about the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive on the website.

Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)

Find The White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (2019) on the website.

South Africa’s Bio-Economy Strategy, published by the DST, now DSI, identified agriculture as a key sector.


The DSI works with partners like the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) and Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA).

Further reference:

  • Incentives for research and development can be found at
  • Ferreira, E. 2019, July 9. “Nzimande sets up fund to aid technology innovators in SA”. Business Report. Available at
  • The Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) recognised that the country’s “capacity to make strategic investments across the innovation value chain” is critical in ensuring global and domestic competitiveness. It remarked on the comparatively higher involvement of the private in research. “Research and Innovation” is covered under its Transversal Intervention chapter.

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC)

The ARC is accountable to the DSI in terms of the regulatory framework affecting institutions with research and development as a primary mandate, but reports to the DALRRD in terms of objectives and budget. It is one of eight research councils in South Africa and was established in 1992 in terms of the Agricultural Research Act of 1990 (Act No. 86 of 1990) as amended in 1993 and 1995.

The ARC’s research campuses are listed below. For more detailed information, visit or contact ARC head office at 012 427 9700.


Livestock and Animal Health

  • ARC-Animal Production (ARC-AP) Tel: 012 672 9111 Research activity: livestock improvement, animal nutrition & farming systems SMME development, food products / feed stuffs, animal feeds, improve meat and dairy products, production of beef & dairy cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry, poultry nutrition, dairy cattle nutrition, red meat production, pig nutrition
  • ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Research (ARC-OVR) Tel: 012 529 9511 Research activity: vaccines, animal diseases / infectious diseases, parasitology, toxicology



  • ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC) Tel: 013 753 7000 Research activity: citrus, pineapple, banana, avocado, mango, guava, litchi, papaya, granadilla, tea, coffee, spices, pecan and macadamia nuts, indigenous fruit, essential oils
  • ARC-Vegetables and Ornamental Plants (ARC-VOP) Tel: 012 841 9611 Research activity: vegetables, potatoes, flowers (bulbs), onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, cowpeas
  • ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100 Research activity: fruit production, viticulture / oenology, deciduous fruit, grapes – table, raisin, white grapes, wine & brandy industry, apples, peaches, plums, pears, berry fruits, tree nut crops, rooibos tea, dates, olives, kiwi fruit, hops


Field Crops

  • ARC-Small Grains (ARC-SG) Tel: 058 307 3400 Research activity: wheat, barley, oats, rye
  • ARC-Industrial Crops (ARC-IC) Tel: 012 427 9999 Tel: 014 536 3150 / 2 Research activity: tobacco, cotton, hemp, flax, sisal, kenaf, cassava
  • ARC-Grain Crops (ARC-GC) Tel: 018 299 6100 Research activity: grain crops – maize, sorghum and millet, sunflower, groundnut, soya beans, dry beans, cow peas, sweet white lupine, bambara


Natural Resources and Engineering

  • ARC-Soil, Climate and Water (SCW) Tel: 012 310 2500 Research activity: soil science, agrometeorology, water utilisation, GIS and remote sensing
  • ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) Tel: 012 842 4000 / 17 Research activity: aquaculture, irrigation systems, mechanisation, product processing, energy
  • ARC-Plant Health and Protection (ARC-PHP) Tel: 012 808 8000 Research activity: biosystematics of insects, arachnida, fungi and nematodes; crop pest and disease management, biocontrol of invader weeds, pesticide management, conservation agriculture, rural development training


Other role players

  • Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Tel: 012 349 6600
  • Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) AISA is a research organisation and think-tank which focuses on Africa. In 2014 it was incorporated into the HSRC.
  • African Mineral Standards (AMIS) Tel: 011 923 0800 Interlaboratory Testing Schemes improve laboratory quality control
  • Agrimark Trends (AMT) Tel: 073 140 2698 Research is aimed at developing an analytical framework that would assist role players, in agriculture in quantifying the effects of various agro-economic variables such as agricultural policy, technology, development strategies, regional demand, product distribution, competitive advantages and trade liberalisation on the agricultural economy of the region.
  • Asset Research Asset Research is “aimed at the development of capacity within the field of environmental and natural resource economics”.
  • Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) BFAP is an independent research unit involving the University of Pretoria, Stellenbosch University, the Department of Agriculture: Western Cape and the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and associate organisations.
  • Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) Based at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
  • Citrus Research International (CRI) Tel: 013 759 8000
  • Companies involved in agriculture conduct their own research e.g. the seed companies, fertiliser companies etc. The Revenue Laws Amendment Act allows companies to deduct 150% of Research and Development (R & D) expenditure. Find details of “Companies Involved” in the relevant chapters.
  • ExperiCo Agri-Research Solutions
  • Hortgro Science Tel: 021 882 8470
  • Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) Tel: 049 842 4335 / 083 256 7202
  • Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) Tel: 033 386 2314
  • Maize Trust Tel: 012 807 3958 / 4191 The Maize Trust annually grants bursaries for maize-related MSc and PhD studies to qualifying students at all the South African universities
  • National Science & Technology Forum Tel: 012 841 3987
  • Protein Research Foundation Tel: 011 803 2579
  • Provincial Departments of Agriculture conduct research. Details can be found on some of their websites, like and

Some of the provincial research stations are:


  • Armoedsvlakte Agricultural Research Station – 053 927 3801
  • Dundee Agricultural Research Station – 034 212 2479
  • Fort Hare Research Farm – 040 602 2428
  • Honeydale Research Farm – 040 602 2426
  • Kokstad Agricultural Research Station – 039 727 2105/28
  • Karakul Agricultural Research Station – 054 332 1931
  • Nooitgedacht Agricultural Research Station – 017 811 5811

Others include: Messina Agricultural Research Station, Outeniqua Experimental Farm, Koopmansfontein Agricultural Research Station, Quelea Research Unit (QRU), Rietrivier Agricultural Research Station, Sandvet Agricultural Research Station, Toowomba Agricultural Research Station and the Vaalharts Agricultural Research Station. Details can  be found on provincial Departments of Agriculture websites and at

  • Science in Africa, “Africa’s first on-line Science Magazine”, can be read at
  • Soil Science Society of South Africa (SSSSA) Tel: 012 310 2504
  • South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) Tel: 012 392 9300
  • South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) Tel: 031 508 7400
  • Sugar Milling Research Institute (SMRI) Tel: 031 273 1300
  • South African Society of Animal Science (SASAS) Tel: 012 420 6017
  • South African Society of Crop Production (SASCP) Tel: 018 299 6346
  • Southern African Society for Horticultural Sciences
  • South African Soil Survey Organisation (SASSO)
  • Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) Tel: 012 472 2700 The TIA was formed in 2010 to support the commercialisation of local research and development (R&D).
  • The Innovation Hub Tel: 012 844 0000 “Sub-Saharan Africa’s first internationally accredited and leading science and technology park.
  • TuksNovation Tel: 012 420 3003 Connects science and technology innovators with corporates, academics and government
  • Water Research Commission (WRC) The WRC operates in terms of the Water Research Act (Act 34 of 1971) and its mandate is to support water research and development as well as the building of a sustainable water research capacity in South Africa.

Find details of Universities and Agricultural Colleges on the “Agricultural education and training” page.


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