South Africa


Country South Africa Capital : Pretoria

South Africa has a population of nearly 55 million. The land is characterized by deserts, savannas, mountains and has a temperate climate. A large amount of South Africa’s growing population is living under the poverty line. Current and future challenges for agriculture make food security a matter of crucial importance for the country.

Agricultural production in South Africa focuses on maize, sugar cane, potatoes and fruits. While the amount of arable land and water resources are limited, the agricultural sector employs only 5% of the labor force and further makes up 5% of the country’s exports.

Ranking sixth among the wold’s seventeen mega biodiverse countries of the world, South Africa still remains interdependent when it comes to crop diversity. In fact, 90%-98% of the food energy consumed in South Africa comes from crops that are not native to the region. Top imports are wheat, soybeans and palm oil. Yearly wheat imports add up to 1,849,581 tons and USD 599.4 million in value.

Ensuring that notable imports such as wheat and soybeans are able to adapt to the challenges that agriculture faces today and tomorrow is of the utmost importance, not only to South Africa, but also the world.

The Crop Trust has supported 4 projects in South Africa

  1. Cassava: The Crop Trust supported the University of the Free State, which is collaborating with the Department of Agriculture, Malawi and the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique to genotype and evaluate cassava collections in Malawi and Mozambique for starch characteristics.
  2. Cowpea: The Crop Trust supported the Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute and the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre who are collaborating to characterize and evaluate important collections of cowpea for drought and heat tolerance with the objective of identifying potential sources of tolerance and resistant genes, make available to breeders for use in developing varieties adapted to climate change.
  3. Maize: The African Centre for Crop Improvement in South Africa crossed temperate low phytic acid mutants with African maize to enhance nutritional value and early maturity. Early maturity maize varieties will fit into the short growing seasons and escape the drought periods that occur later in the season. The short rain seasons are expected to become more frequent in view of the effects of climate change in Sub Saharan Africa.
  4. Sweet Potato: The Crop Trust supported the Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute and the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre to characterize and evaluate important collections of sweet potato for drought and heat tolerance, blight resistance and beta carotene content with the aim of identifying potential sources of tolerant and resistance genes for these traits and make these material available to breeders in South Africa and other countries in SADC countries for use in the development of varieties adapted to climate change and with enhanced nutritional value. One sweet potato variety with tolerance to blight has been distributed to various community projects in South Africa for production and another with high beta-carotene content is being promoted in crop-based program in South Africa to address vitamin A deficiency.