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Research and development


“Countries that create ideal conditions for [research and development (R&D)] to flourish reap multiple rewards. These range from solutions to health, environmental and social challenges to new discoveries that trigger economic growth and new knowledge … We need investment in R&D to thrive in all of these sectors to improve our national system of innovation.”


Source: Dr Glenda Kruss on the 2023 release of the 2020/21 R&D Survey (see "Local business environment" heading)

International business environment


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

  • AARINENA Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa –
  • AATF African Agricultural Technology Foundation –
  • Africa Rice Centre –
  • 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


The Americas


Asia and Australia





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).

Local business environment

  • South African R&D is measured using guidelines published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which enables comparison with other countries.
  • Reported in current prices, gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), an indicator of the R&D intensity in an economy, was 0.61% in 2020/21.
  • Government funded 56.3% of R&D in South Africa while business funded 26.9%, with foreign funding contributing 13.3%.


From the South African National Survey of Research and Experimental Development Statistical Report 2020/21 (release in January 2023), which can be found at

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.


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


South African 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 strategy and government contact

“The aim in identifying new and emerging technologies is not only to increase global competitiveness, but also to ensure household food security and to assist the developing farmers in entering the mainstream”. NARDS 2008 (see below).


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

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. 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:

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


Livestock and Animal Health

  • ARC-Animal Production (ARC-AP) 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) Research activity: vaccines, animal diseases / infectious diseases, parasitology, toxicology



  • ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC) Research activity: citrus, pineapple, banana, avocado, mango, guava, litchi, papaya, granadilla, tea, coffee, spices, pecan and macadamia nuts, indigenous fruit, essential oils
  • ARC-Vegetable, Industrial and Medicinal Plants (ARC-VIMP) Research activity: vegetables, potatoes, flowers (bulbs), onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, cowpeas
  • ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij 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) Research activity: wheat, barley, oats, rye
  • ARC-Industrial Crops (ARC-IC) Research activity: tobacco, cotton, hemp, flax, sisal, kenaf, cassava
  • ARC-Grain Crops (ARC-GC) 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) Research activity: soil science, agrometeorology, water utilisation, GIS and remote sensing
  • ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) Research activity: aquaculture, irrigation systems, mechanisation, product processing, energy
  • ARC-Plant Health and Protection (ARC-PHP) 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

Role players

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