Media release | South African agribusiness innovation survey kicks off

Friday, 19 August 2022 – South Africa’s official Agricultural Business Innovation Survey (AgriBIS) 2019-2021 gets underway today, with fieldworkers reaching out to commercial farming, forestry and fisheries businesses in the coming months.

Performed by the Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation, the survey will be taking place for the second time in South Africa.

Covering a three-year period, 2019 until 2021, the survey takes stock of activity in a stratified random sample of 1700 large, medium and small or micro enterprises.

The AgriBIS project aims to monitor innovation performance in the agricultural sector in South Africa, using an internationally comparable methodology to generate statistics.

Information about each business’s innovations, which may include new products, new processes, as well as improvements to existing products or ways of working, is collected.

HSRC fieldworkers will contact businesses and the survey can be self-completed online or via a telephonic interview.

According to the head of CeSTII, Dr Glenda Kruss, global challenges of climate change, and pandemics like COVID-19, reinforce the importance of innovation. Countries are best placed to solve wide-ranging social and economic challenges when innovative products and processes are adopted, and technological capacity is built.

“The performance of South Africa’s agricultural sector, as a source of food security, job creation and the sustainable use of natural resources is critical for South Africa’s growth and development, to address goals of sustainability and inclusion,” says Dr Kruss.

“Understanding the nature and volume of innovation provides the insight government and industry actors need to fine-tune policy instruments and expand innovative solutions to diverse challenges across the agribusiness sector, including small and emerging businesses.”

“We thank the agricultural business sector in advance for contributing their time and insight when approached to participate in this important research, and we look forward to sharing the findings with government, industry and civil society stakeholders,” says Dr Kruss.

The survey results will be analysed in 2022/23 and published in 2023.


About the Centre for Science Technology and Innovation Indicators 

–Contact the HSRC survey management team: Dr Yasser Buchana

Previous results of the South African Agricultural Business Innovation Survey, 2016-2018


Adziliwi Nematandani, HSRC
Join the conversation: #BusinessInnovationSurvey #SAInnovationData

Analysis | International innovation collaboration activity by SA businesses

Innovation is widely recognised as a key ingredient in the growth of economies. At firm level, it is equally vital as a capability for businesses to cooperate and compete. International collaboration occurs when enterprises work together across borders with partners on joint innovation projects and is one way that businesses can optimise the innovation process on a much wider level.

Drawing on the latest available national South African innovation and R&D data, this fact sheet shows that while some South African businesses already collaborate internationally on innovation, more collaborate through local innovation partnerships, which includes R&D partnerships. As such, potential opportunities exist for more South African firms to share skills, risk, and resources by expanding joint work with international partners. Where international collaboration is not taking place, the barriers preventing it need to be understood and addressed at policy level.

Behind the numbers

Data for this fact sheet is drawn from the South African Business Innovation Survey, 2014-2016 and South African National Survey of Research and Experimental Development Inputs (R&D Survey) 2019/20. Both surveys were conducted by the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) at South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). R&D and innovation statistics are collected in terms of the Statistics Act No. 6 of 1999, and are quality assured by Statistics South Africa.

Data collected through the surveys, and their historic data series, inform decision-makers on investment planning, policy-making, advocacy, and research in South Africa. Data streams also add to benchmarking and performance comparisons with our international counterparts. Please note that some indicator totals may be subject to rounding errors.

Access previous R&D and innovation survey reports

Analysis | Adoption and diffusion of advanced ICTs in South Africa’s agricultural sector

“For policymakers to develop, implement and improve policies that facilitate adoption and diffusion while mitigating the potential associated risks, they need to understand the implications involved,” write Buchana, Sithole, and Majokweni (2022) in a new HSRC Policy Brief. “The main policy issue at hand is the absence of evidence-based policy instruments intended for facilitating the diffusion and use of these advanced ICTs in the agricultural sector.”

Download HSRC Policy Brief Adoption and diffusion of advanced ICTs in South Africa’s agricultural sector: Policy issues and implications

Policy Brief Authors

Yasser Buchana (PhD), Senior Research Specialist, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council | ybuchana[at]

Moses M. Sithole (PhD), Research Director, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council | msithole[at]

Pilela Majokweni, Senior Researcher, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council | pmajokweni[at]

Analysis | Policy levers to boost innovation and productivity in South African manufacturing firms

“Current policy instruments to promote innovation do not consider all of the drivers of innovation investment and success, and there is a need for a mix of tools – known as policy levers – that explicitly consider the differential impact of these drivers on product versus process innovation,” argues Kahn (2022) in a new HSRC Policy Brief.

Download HSRC Policy Brief (March 2022) ‘Policy levers to boost innovation and productivity in South African manufacturing firms’

Policy Brief Author

Amy Kahn (PhD), Research Specialist, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council | akahn[at]

Policy Forum | Agricultural Innovation in South Africa

Join this policy forum to explore new sources of evidence to strengthen agricultural innovation in South Africa. Engage with speakers playing key roles in the sectoral system, including in industry associations, universities, businesses, government, and the media.

Why this policy forum, now

The South African White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (2019) places the modernisation and strengthening of agriculture firmly on South African’s innovation agenda. Vital to food and job security, skills enhancement, and increased competitiveness across local and global markets, the case for strengthening agricultural innovation is compelling and urgent. Agricultural actors—such as producers (smallholder to large-scale farmers, loggers, and fishers), formal agribusinesses (small, medium, and large), industry associations, financial institutions, and policy actors—face diverse challenges. These include: addressing climate change; improving production, processing and market efficiency; ensuring product and facility certification and compliance; and enhancing absorptive capacity for new and emerging technologies, including 4IR. How, then, can the innovation policy agenda be advanced to strategically enable actors to address these and future challenges, and to provide adequate and timely responses that build resilience in this sector?

The evidence provided by South Africa’s first national Agricultural Business Innovation Survey, alongside, for example, the Statistics South Africa Census of Commercial Agriculture, represent key recent empirical contributions to ongoing policy discussions. Using the available data as one of the tools, this policy forum aims to address questions in agricultural innovation from the perspectives of three sub-sectors—farming, forestry, and fisheries, including the actors impacted—and explore routes to address a series of key questions.

Key questions

  • Do existing science, technology and innovation (STI) policy instruments support innovation activity in South African agribusinesses as effectively as they could? Are there types of innovation that do not occur on a wide enough scale, or are ‘below the radar’, that we should promote systematically? What are the different strategies required to promote the distinctive patterns of innovation in different agricultural sub-sectors?
  • In different agricultural sub-sectors, do we need specific funding instruments for R&D-led innovation, technological upgrading, and organisation or non-technological innovation to transform the agricultural, food and nutrition system in a more targeted manner? How can DSI coordinate and align its policy, strategies and interventions with other stakeholders in the agricultural system of innovation, including related government departments, science councils and universities, financial institutions, and industry associations, to address the barriers and constraints?

Zoom link for registration


*Programme Facilitator: Kgomotso Matjila, Acting Chief Director: Science and Technology Investment, Department of Science and Innovation

09h30 | Welcoming remarks

  • Ben Durham, Chief Director: Bio-Innovation, Department of Science and Innovation

09h40 | Keynote address: ‘Innovation and resilience in global agri-food and nutrition systems’

  • Judith-Ann Francis, Independent International Strategic and Policy Advisor on Innovation in Agri-food and Nutrition Systems

10h00 | Scene-setting presentation: Innovation in South African agribusinesses: New empirical evidence

  • Dr Glenda Kruss, Executive Head, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council

10h40 | Research Panel: ‘Directions for policy from the evidence’

Moderator: Prof. John Ouma-Mugabe, Professor of Science and Innovation Policy at the Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria

  • Dr Albert Strever, Agri-Informatics Expert, Stellenbosch University
  • Dr Marinda Visser, Director: Strategic Projects & Planning: Agriculture, Innovation Africa @ UP Initiative
  • Dr McLean Sibanda, IP & Innovation Expert & Managing Director, Bigen Global Ltd.

11h30 | Finance and Business Panel: ‘Directions for policy and investment from ground level’

Moderator: Dr Mlungisi Cele, Acting CEO: National Advisory Council on Innovation

  • Dr John Purchase, CEO, Agricultural Business Chamber (agbiz)
  • Dr Simphiwe Ngqangweni, CEO, National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC)
  • Denene Erasmus, Editor, Farmer’s Weekly
  • Mmabatho Portia Morudi, Farmer & Entrepreneur, II iju Bee Farms and co-founder of The Village Market Africa

12h30 | Policy Panel: ‘Strengthening the agricultural innovation system – the policy response’ 

Moderator: Dr Maneshree Jugmohan-Naidu, Director: Biotechnology, Department of Science and Innovation

  • Sibongiseni Ndimande, Director: Research and Policy Analysis, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
  • Sibonelo Mbanjwa, Director: Climate Change Adaptation-Natural Resources, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
  • Sibusiso Manana, Head: Agriculture Strategic Technology Area, Technology Innovation Agency

13h20 | Closing remarks

  • Dr Petronella Chaminuka, Principal Economist and Senior Manager: Economic Analysis Unit, Agricultural Research Council

For more information or to contact the organisers please write to:

Policy Forum | State of innovation in South Africa

This high level, evidence-led virtual discussion on innovation and innovation measurement in South Africa on 28 August 2020 will feature key speakers from government, business, universities and civil society.

RSVP required at Eventbrite*

*Zoom link to be supplied on receipt of RSVP

Please note: This event will also be livestreamed on Facebook at the Department of Science and Innovation page.

Reading pack

Why this event, now?

The eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 has resulted in rapid pivoting across government, business and civil society, as actors adapt to the plethora of new threats, risks, and opportunities. As the outbreak deepens in South Africa, the role of innovation cannot be overstated in evidence-led planning for the country’s economic recovery. South Africa’s White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation, published in 2019, articulates a clear role of innovation in promoting sustainable and inclusive development in a changing world. It is therefore vital to interrogate the evidence we have on innovation, in order to inform the optimal policy mixes, which are fast-changing in relation to the urgencies presented by national and global, but also sectoral, COVID-19 responses.

This high-level policy forum will bring together high-level actors in a virtual setting to:

  • Launch the 2020 South African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators report produced by the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI)
  • Present the latest reviews of the National Research and Development Strategy (NRDS) and the Ten Year Innovation Plan recently conducted by NACI
  • Share on new data sets produced by the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation, including the Business Innovation Survey, 2014-2016, the Agricultural Business Innovation Survey, 2016-2018, and the Baseline Survey of Innovation in the Informal Economy 2018
  • Reflect on the role of indicators in monitoring the state of the National System of Innovation (NSI), by drawing in key perspectives from business, government, civil society and universities, and explore using evidence how South Africa’s NSI is geared towards inclusive and sustainable development
  • In 2020, we invite thought leaders and decision-makers from business, government, higher education, industry and civil society to consider their experiences and challenges, to highlight critical issues for measurement and policy-making going forward.

Key questions

  • What role can and should innovation play in South Africa’s recovery post-COVID?
  • What adaptations to current policy mixes should be explored, based on new evidence?
  • Do we have the right kinds of innovation measures appropriate to the South African context?
  • What have we learned about innovation from the experience of pivoting to the changes brought by COVID, across business, civil society, universities and government?

Event contacts

  • Rudzani Maila (rudzani.maila[at]
  • Gerard Ralphs (gralphs[at]

Policy Forum | Is the Western Cape establishing a regional culture of innovation conducive to the needs of business?

The Western Cape Workshop of the National Advisory Council on Innovation’s Provincial Roadshow took place place at InvestSA on 10 September 2019.

Scene-settingProf Crain Soudien (CEO, HSRC) and Dr Mlungisi Cele (Acting CEO: NACI)

South Africa STI Indicators 2019Dr Petrus Letaba (NACI)

Business panel: Critical needs in the Western Cape provincial innovation system, Facilitated by Tim Harris (CEO, WESGRO)

Government panel: How government is creating a regional innovation culture, Facilitated by Dr Glenda Kruss (Executive Head, CeSTII) 

*Video courtesy of the HSRC’s Impact Centre. Special thanks to Antonio Erasmus.

Final Programme & Speakers

Why this event, now?

The 2014-2019 Western Cape Provincial Strategic Plan foregrounds innovation as one of its key economic development goals.

It is necessary to nurture innovation as a key objective within the economic development sphere,” the Plan states.

The objective will be to develop new types of approaches, solutions, processes and materials which will have the potential to clearly identify the region as one which is conducive to creativity, innovation and design. We seek to establish a regional culture that supports and evokes industry collaboration and to scale sustainability, innovations and technology. (p.16)

As the Plan’s strategic cycle draws to a close, the launch of the National Advisory Council on Innovation’s 2019 STI Indicators report, as part of its provincial roadshows, provides an excellent opportunity for critical reflection on progress toward these goals and an opportunity to highlight plans for the new 5-year strategic cycle.

Nested within a national systems of innovation perspective, but with a clear focus on the provincial lens, the programme is designed to catalyse a reflective and formative conversation, between and across sectors, with key business and government stakeholders sharing needs, programming and strategy lessons, and ideas for the future.

About the 2019 NACI Provincial Roadshow: The NACI report assesses STI performance in terms of quality of life and wealth creation, enabled by business performance through innovation, a framework informed by the National R&D Strategy of 2002. In 2019, we invite thought leaders and decision-makers from business principally, but also government and industry associations, to consider their experiences and challenges, to highlight critical issues for measurement and policy-making going forward.

Key questions

  • What does an innovative regional government look like and why is this important in the regional innovation system?
  • What does a regional culture of innovation that is conducive to the needs of diverse industries and the businesses within them look like and how can a region be positioned as an innovative region?
  • How is the Western Cape regional innovation system performing in terms of providing an enabling environment for innovation in order for Western Cape businesses to remain competitive and to create opportunities for job creation and economic growth?
  • How does the structure of industries nationally enhance or circumscribe provincial innovation, particularly in terms of human capabilities and networks?
  • Is the Western Cape geared to respond to new urgencies and global challenges, such as environmental change, and how can business innovation stakeholders play a more active role in this respect?

More info?

  • Gerard Ralphs gralphs[at] | 021 466 8000

*Image credit: Cape Town Film Studios: