The African continent produces roughly 200 000 tonnes of canola a year, according to data  of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. For perspective, this accounts for a mere 0.2 percent in global production.

The leading producers are South Africa with 60 percent share in the continent’s production, followed by Ethiopia with 24 percent share, Algeria with 13 percent share, Tunisia with 2 percent share and Morocco with a percentage point share contribution.

South Africa’s commercial canola production is concentrated in just one province, the Western Cape. This means the province produces two-thirds of Africa’s canola seed. Not to take anything away from the provincial farmers, I should highlight that the production of this crop in other provinces in South Africa is largely constrained by climate variation. Canola is a winter crop, hence concentrated in the winter rainfall area – Western Cape.

This, however, hasn’t stopped other provinces from exploring the possibility of this crop as consumption increases due to growing healthy eating habits in society, amongst other possible uses. Case in point is the Alexandria area in the Eastern Cape, which is undergoing some field trials of canola crop. Late last year, I had lunch with the folks leading the canola production in the province, Anati Oils. They told a good story about their future plans. But, I haven’t followed up to check the current conditions and progress thus far.

In 2017/18 production season, South Africa’s or should I say, the Western Cape’s canola production declined by 11 percent from the previous season to 93 500 tonnes due to drought.

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South Africa’s canola production
Source: SAGIS, Agbiz Research

The current 2018/19 production season promises a 20 percent annual uptick to 112 000 tonnes of production, which means the Western Cape will remain the continent’s hub for canola production. Perhaps, in the coming years, the Western Cape will not carry the African continent on its shoulders alone, but receive a good boost from the Eastern Cape and possibly lead to a subsequent improvement in Africa’s canola production.

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