Plant Improvement Bill [B 8B-2015]

Call for comments opened 07 March 2017 Share this page:

Submissions are now closed (since 15 March 2017)

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

The Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources invites you to submit written comments on the Plant Improvement Bill [B 8B-2015].

The Bill seeks to provide for:
▪ the registration of certain types of business relating to plants and propagating material intended for cultivation and sale and the registration of premises on or from which that business is conducted;
▪ quality standards for plants and propagating material intended for cultivation and sale and conditions of sale of plants and propagating material;
▪ a system for national listing of plant varieties;
▪ the evaluation of plant varieties in order to ensure value if there is doubt in respect of the value for cultivation and use of plant varieties intended for cultivation and sale;
▪ import and export control of plants and propagating material; and
▪ a system for different types of schemes for plants and propagating material.

Comments can be emailed to Mr Asgar A Bawa at by no later than Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Enquiries can be directed to Mr Asgar A Bawa on tel (021) 403 3762 or cell 083 709 8530

 Issued by Mr OJ Sefako, MP, Chairperson of the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources.

Plant improvement is an important element of agricultural production in South Africa and other countries across the world. Plant improvement in South Africa has been primarily regulated by the Plant Improvement Act, 1976 (Act No. 53 of 1976) (‘‘the Act’’). The scope of the Act addresses aspects relating to the quality of plants and seed utilised and traded in South Africa. The standards set by the Act are recognised by international organisations such as the International Seed Testing Association (‘‘the ISTA’’) and the seed schemes of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (‘‘the OECD’’). This allows South Africa to participate in the global trade of seed. The significance and role of the Act lies in recognising the importance of quality plant propagating material to support sustainable agricultural production as well as participation in the global market by setting quality standards for plants and seed and for the types of business dealing with plants and seed. The Act has been amended several times, the last being in 1996. Although the regulatory role of the Act in the agricultural industry remains critical, review of the Act has indicated that the scope and provisions of the Act are not entirely aligned to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (‘‘the Constitution’’) and other related legislation in the agricultural sector. The Plant Improvement Bill (‘‘the Bill’’) aims to enhance sustainable crop production in South Africa by regulating the quality of plants and seed. Crop production is not only dependent on the development of new varieties of plants with improved and useful characteristics of increased yields or disease tolerance, but also on the quality of plants and seed. Due to the influence of storage conditions on plants and seed for planting purposes, the Bill also prescribes standards for the different types of business involved in the selling of plants and seed. The standards set by the Bill will contribute to the food security and overall economy of the country. The National Development Plan (‘‘the NDP’’) highlighted the central role of agriculture in terms of job creation, rural development and food security. Key outcomes expected from the agricultural sector include the creation of 1 million jobs by 2030, food security as well as prosperous rural areas. The NDP includes better integration of the country’s rural areas, achieved through successful land reform, infrastructure development, job creation and poverty alleviation. In order to attain these expectations, the agricultural sector will depend on access to production inputs which include high quality propagation material, like plants and seeds. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (‘‘the Department’’) also shifted focus towards creating an enabling environment for the agricultural sector that is accessible and inclusive of all participants, irrespective of the size of their contribution to the sector. This is to be achieved through the provision of efficient and appropriate services via its various agricultural support programmes and improved regulatory systems. It is within this framework that plant improvement activities should be recognised to provide support to strengthen existing commercial production while simultaneously improving the participation of new entrants and facilitating smallholder farmers to make the transition to mainstream agriculture.