It takes more or less 12 years and costs over R16 million to bring a new cultivar to the market. Without the latest technology, it is impossible for South African producers to compete against their international counterparts, who make use of the best seeds and latest technologies available.

In South Africa, the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act (Act47 of 1996) provides for the application of a statutory levy and with this need in mind, the Breeding and Technology Levy was established.

The South African Cultivar and Technology Agency (SACTA) was created as the legitimate central institution which administers the breeding levies for all self-pollinated grain and oilseed crops, specifically wheat, barley, soya beans and some canola cultivars. Although farmers have the fullest right to hold back seeds from these self-pollinated crops for future planting, this practice reduces the quantity of new seeds sold and it is thus not worth their while for seed companies to invest in breeding and technology of these crops.

SACTA believes that all cultivars should offer a healthy balance between yield and quality so that all parties in the value chain benefit. The system is driven by the free market, dedicated by demand. Currently South Africa imports more than 50% of our wheat and there is not enough investment in new breeding programmes. The SACTA Board of Directors is committed to ensure food security through the development of new genetics and technology for open-pollinated crops.

Representing SANSOR on the SACTA board are Dr Lukeshni Chetty (general manager of SANSOR) and Deon van Rooyen (honorary member of SANSOR).

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