The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) is an R&D organisation funded by the State as well as the private sector. Roughly 50% of the ARC budget is obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, and the rest from contractual agreements with agricultural commodity and organized agriculture organisations. The ARC has a national footprint, with several campuses in the capital, Pretoria, complemented by experimental farms and research institutes across agro-ecological zones of South Africa.

The ARC is a premier science institution with a staff component of roughly 2500 members. It conducts research with partners, develops human capital, and fosters innovation in support of the agricultural sector. It also provides diagnostic, laboratory, analytical, engineering, statistical and economic services, and provides advisory services as well as various survey and training interventions. Through its wider network of research campuses and experimental farms, the ARC provides a strong scientific base and a broadly distributed technology transfer capacity to the agricultural industry in South Africa.

The ARC’s purpose is to promote development and growth in agricultural industries; promote sustainable, equitable economic participation in the sector; facilitate skills development; ensure natural resource conservation; promote food security, and contribute to a better quality of life. The ARC generates, develops, and transfers knowledge, solutions, and technologies that enhance sustainability, food safety, quality, productivity, and efficiency in the sector. Research is focused on a range of crops and livestock as well as resource conservation and utilisation.

Crop Sciences R&D covers tropical and sub-tropical fruits, deciduous fruit and oenology, field crops, vegetables, medicinal and other plants, and plant health and protection. Animal Sciences covers animal health, animal production, aquaculture, and wildlife.

Innovation in agro-processing, engineering, knowledge management, biotechnology, and natural resource use is regularly achieved. Research output is transferred to commercial and smallholder farmers through a number of commercialisation, training and extension programmes.