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Chemicals in agriculture


Agrochemicals are an intervention that assists farmers grow their product – be it fruit, grain, vegetable or livestock – and for use in the various forms of processing and post-harvest treatments.

Choosing the right chemicals can be bewildering, and a wrong choice can lead to marketing and financial problems. The misuse of agrochemicals too introduces a negative note. Many of them are toxic with potential hazards for the environment and wildlife, and humans. For this reason, trade in chemicals is well regulated and great emphasis is placed on the correct handling and storage of chemicals. Agrochemicals help ensure food security.

Major initiatives by CropLife SA

In addition to the training courses mentioned on the “Crop protection” page, the following is undertaken:

  • Retrieval and disposal of obsolete stock. CropLife SA runs a waste management programme in line with the National Waste Management Act which is aimed at retrieving and disposing of obsolete stocks in South Africa.
  • Pesticide Container Management. CropLife SA works on various environmentally sound container management strategies for adoption and implementation by industry in line with the above.
  • Aerial Application. CropLife SA, in alliance with the SA Aerial Applicators Association, has modern calibration equipment from the USA which ensures a more efficient aerial application of products.
  • South African Pollinator Forum (see “Crop protection” page)

Poison Information Centres

For advice on cases of poisoning:

  1. Tygerberg Poison Information Centre (Human Poisoning), 021 931 6129
  2. Red Cross Children’s Hospital Poison Line, 021 689 5227
  3. Public Emergency Communication Centre, 021 480 7700
  4. Griffon Poison Information Centre (Wildlife Poison), 082 446 8946
  5. Nashua Pesticides Helpline 082 325 6223 Tim Snow

African business environment

National strategy and government contact

See our blog “New regulations published for Agricultural Remedies in South Africa” (2023, October 31).

Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) The Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for the Pesticide Sector (March 2023) forms part of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act: NEMWA (Act No 59 of 2008). The regulations have been promulgated and all registration holders (agricultural remedies) must comply with the EPR Regulations. See

The Department of Trade, Industry & Competition (the dtic) has previously provided very useful overviews of the chemicals sector as it set out its interventions to encourage growth. Find the notes on the chemicals sector on

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Registrar: Act No. 36 of 1947

In South Africa all chemicals used for the control of any pest or disease on a plant must be registered for such use under Act 36 of 1947 (the Fertilisers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act). An amendment to this Act (No R.1716 of 26 July 1991) prohibits the acquisition, disposal, sale or use of an agricultural remedy for a purpose or in a manner other than that specified on the label on the container.

The list of registered products is updated regularly with new agrochemicals introduced and some removed. The use of the old ones is illegal and it is in the producer’s interest to keep up to date with the list of registered agents.

DALRRD: Agriculture Inputs Control

Documents, guidelines etc and contact details for registration enquiries, and Compliance and Enforcement can be found on the website.

The Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (Act No. 54 of 1972) determines the maximum residue levels of agricultural chemicals that may occur on food products in South Africa and is applied by the Department of Health (see

The Department of Science & Innovation is involved with the Post Harvest Innovation Programme. See


Other government departments

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has compiled a national standard which summarises all legislation which pertains to the handling and storage of chemicals on farms – SANS 10206. It applies to all kinds of farming, including fruit, grain, vegetable and livestock. See (find the “Services and sectors” option).

Role players

Further reference:

Role players

Training and research

  • The Sustainable Sugarcane Farm Management System (Susfarms®), linked to the WWF SA, the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) and other role players, provides sugarcane farmers with a tool to keep on the right side of agrochemical usage.
  • Other associations like Grain SA include guidelines in the handling and storage of chemicals in their material for farmers.
  • CropLife SA offers training programmes in responsible product handling and use. See
  • The RPMASA also co-ordinates training.

Websites and publications

Find the monthly Chemical and fertilizer report on the Grain SA website,

Registered chemicals in South Africa are published in guides such as A Guide for the Control of Plant Diseases and A Guide for the Control of Plant Pests issued by the DALRRD on a regular basis. Contact 012 319 7141 or write: Resource Centre, Private Bag X144, Pretoria 0001.

The following publications are available from DALRRD’s Resource Centre, and can also be accessed at

  • Pesticides: disposing of empty containers
  • Pesticides: How to handle pesticides safely
  • Pesticides: poisoning
  • Pesticides: protective clothing
  • Pesticides: Safety measures
  • Pesticides: storing agrochemicals and stock remedies
  • Pesticides: What does the label say?

Publications available from CropLife SA:

  • AGCHEM lists of coded products for integrated fruit production
  • Plant Disease Compendium
  • Weed Control Compendium
  • Problem Plant Control Compendium
  • Plant Pests Compendium
  • Control of Indoors Pests compendium
  • A Guide for Operators: Responsible Pesticide Use (Available in 11 official languages)
  • Guide to the Treatment of Poisoning by Chemicals – a must for the medical profession.
  • Guidelines to the RSA Classification Code and Labeling of Agricultural Chemicals and Stock Remedies
  • Guidelines for the Road Transportation of Classified Dangerous Goods and Substances
  • Responsible Use poster

Production guidelines like those by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) campuses include the latest information on agrochemicals. In the case of grain farmers, the Maize Information Guide and Manual for the production of small grains, published every year apply. The publications are free of charge for producers. They can also be downloaded at

A database of agrochemicals and related services for South Africa exist at (get those maximum residue levels right!)

Deloitte chemicals-related documents can be downloaded at


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