Improvement and cultivation of various crops. to benefit not only biodiversity but also counter malnutrition
and improve food security and soil fertility.  

Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC, Mbombela)

The purpose of the ARC-TSC is to provide sustainable and appropriate technologies for production and post-harvest handling of citrus and subtropical crops in order to enhance food security and nutrition, global competitiveness and wealth creation by addressing national priorities through its research agenda and related activities. Post-harvest technologies include agro-processing and export protocols; thus, catering for both the commercial and developing agricultural sectors of South Africa. The main campus is in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, where the growth of said crops is highly favoured due to the regional climatic conditions and several other research farms in the region and other selected provinces. The mandate crops of ARC-TSC include the following:

  • citrus, avocado, mango, litchi, banana, guava, macadamia nut, pineapple, papaya, granadilla, pecan nut, coffee and ginger
  • medicinal plants, herbs and essential oil crops
  • indigenous fruit crops
  • exotic crops such as carambola, surinam cherry, white sapote, and jaboticaba

Deciduous Fruit, Vines and Wine (ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch)

This campus was founded on 1 May 1997 through the amalgamation of ARC Stellenbosch: Institute for Fruit & Fruit Technology and ARC: Nietvoorbij: Institute For Viticulture & Oenology.  The campus is located in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape and has six research farms representing different climatic regions. Our mandate is research and development as well as technology transfer on the breeding, cultivation, protection and post-harvest technology of deciduous fruit, grape vines, alternative crops and indigenous herbal teas. ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij is also the custodian of grapevine, deciduous fruit and wine yeast genebanks that preserve genetic resources for breeding purposes, training and comparative descriptions.

Field Crops

This unit works towards the improvement and cultivation of grain crops - for example summer grains such as maize, sorghum and millet, as well as oil and protein seeds such as sunflower, groundnut, soya beans, dry beans, cowpeas, sweet white lupin and bambara. Research activities cover plant breeding, the evaluation of cultivars, grain quality, plant physiology, tillage, weed science, plant pathology, entomology and yield potential.

This unit conducts fundamental and applied research on cotton and tobacco, and industrial crops such as hemp, sisal, flax and cassava. Research activities include plant breeding, the evaluation of cultivars, fibre and seed quality, weed science, plant pathology, entomology and yield potential.

The Grains and Industrial Crops Division will research the re-introduction of indigenous crops. This will benefit not only biodiversity but also counter malnutrition and improve food security and soil fertility. The introduction of such indigenous crops such as cowpea, bambara, millet and sorghum is a positive challenge.

The Small Grain Division focuses on the improvement and cultivation of small grain crops such as wheat, barley, oats, triticale and rye. Its research work covers plant breeding, the evaluation of cultivars, grain quality, plant physiology, tillage, weed science, plant pathology, entomology and yield potential.

Vegetables

The ARC-VOP situated at Roodeplaat, north-east of Pretoria, is mandated to do innovative, need-driven and environmentally friendly research, technology development and technology transfer on commercial vegetables, Afican leafy vegetables, medicinal plants and ornamental plants. Research involves a variety of disciplines, including crop science, crop protection, breeding, genetics, biotechnology and agronomy. The aim is to enhance food and nutrition security, crop productivity, competitiveness, sustainability as well as wealth and job creation. Mandate crops include:

  • vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, chillies, peppers, garlic and leafy vegetables such as lettuce, swisschard.

  • indigenous vegetables, such as amadumbe, amaranth, spider plant and indigenous leafy Solanaceae and indigenous potatoes

  • indigenous ornamental plants, such as Lachenalia, Ornithogalum, Veltheimia and Eucomis; and

  • indigenous medicinal plants, such as Agapanthus, Scilla, Tulbaghia, Hypoxis and wild ginger

​Medicinal and Other Plants

Medicinal Plant Research focuses on the propagation, cultivation and processing of South African medicinal plants, especially those species that are highly utilised. Many of these medicinal plants including the endemic species are often harvested unsustainably from their natural population. As a result, some species are becoming rare or threatened with extinction. The development of optimised propagation and cultivation technologies for medicinal plants is an intervention that can ensure a sustainable supply of good quality plant material for the growing medicinal plant-based industries, contribute towards the conservation of our natural resources and create job opportunities. In order to ensure that the optimised technologies on propagation, cultivation and processing of medicinal plants do not negatively affect medicinal properties, several other research areas are explored. These include analytical studies of bio-active components and the evaluation of different biological activities of medicinal plants. In addition, we actively engage in innovative value-adding research related to the processing of medicinal plants for product development.

Plant Health and Protection (ARC-PPRI)

The ARC-PPR, located in Roodeplaat northeast of Pretoria and at several strategic areas around South Africa, has the mandate to provide extensive and specialist knowledge of the organisms that threaten agricultural crops and plants in natural environments, to protect arable land, water resources, natural biodiversity, and food security. Research is focussed on promoting economic and environmentally acceptable, management strategies for pests, plant diseases, weeds and invasive plants. The Institute has expertise for, and manages pollution of the environment, which includes monitoring pesticide residue levels in agricultural areas to mitigate agricultural and health risks.

The following strategic assets are maintained on behalf of the state:

    • the South African Rhizobium Culture Collection
    • the national collections of arachnids, fungi, insects and nematodes