Southern Oil (Pty) Ltd

©Shem Compion

In 1993, Southern Oil (Pty) Ltd (SOILL) revolutionised agriculture in South Africa by establishing a canola oil refinery in Swellendam in the Western Cape. Up until then, grain farmers in the Western Cape were dependent on wheat as their primary source of income, with most of the alternatives being merely suited for animal feed production. 

The opening of the processing company’s doors in 1996, supplied farmers with a new market opportunity, which in turn allowed them to spread production and market risks, and expand the number of crops in their crop rotation programmes. Canola production, as such, has significantly improved grain production sustainability, as well as rural development and job creation.  

Southern Oil (Pty) Ltd (SOILL) procures all the locally grown canola seed produced in South Africa. Most of this is produced under dryland conditions in the Western Cape, but small volumes are also derived from the Eastern Cape.

Production started with five farmers, over an area of 400 ha, with 400 to 420 farmers planting canola nowadays. In 2019, the area under production amounted to 74 000 ha, yielding 95 000 tons of canola, according to the Crop Estimates Committee.  

Sentraal Suid Cooperative Ltd (SSK), which was the main driver of this enterprise development initiative, is still the main shareholder in Southern Oil (Pty) Ltd.

SOILL sees its relationship with farmers as one of its greatest assets, and works closely with producers to ensure their individual and the industry’s success in general. Prices paid to farmers are derived from oilseed prices.


Although canola is a summer crop in temperate and cool parts of the world, it is primarily produced as a winter crop in South Africa. The Western Cape, in effect, accounts for almost two-thirds of Africa’s total canola seed production....more