Biosecurity in South Africa

People don’t think of the far-reaching consequences of an action like bringing fruit illegally across the border, or of buying unmarked pigs at an auction. It might be out of innocence and ignorance that biosecurity measures are flouted, but the revenue lost can amount to billions of rand which can bring a whole sector to its knees – and threaten the livelihoods of thousands.

Biosecurity analyses and manages risks in the sectors of food safety, animal and plant life and health, including the associated environmental risk. It encompasses the policy and regulatory frameworks.

Investing in its capacity to control disease and to protect its food systems is in a country’s interest. Biosecurity is a national and regional issue.

Biosecurity has three major components: Isolation, Traffic Control, Sanitation.

  1. Isolation: The most important step in disease control is to minimise commingling and movement of plants or pests.
  2. Traffic control includes traffic onto your operation and traffic patterns within your operation. It is important to understand traffic includes more than vehicles. All animals, people and plants must be considered. Animals other than cattle include dogs, cats, horses, wildlife, rodents and birds.
  3. Sanitation addresses the disinfection of materials, people and equipment entering the operation and the cleanliness of the people and equipment on the operation.

Biosecurity legislation includes:

  • Agricultural Pests Act of 1983 (Act No. 36 of 1983)
  • Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act of 1947 (Act No. 36 of 1947)
  • Medicines and Related Substances Control Act of 1965 (Act No. 101 of 1965)
  • Plant Improvement Act, 1973 (Act No. 53 of 1973)

Plans are also well under way to create a Border Management Agency, a single entity that will manage the entire border environment and all ports of entry [find Border Management Agency Bill: Draft on]

The provision of safe, nutritious food to the population remains the mandate of the South African Government as envisioned in Section 27 of the Constitution. This mandate underpins the importance and interrelationship between biosecurity and food security.

Biosecurity, which is broadly defined as the ability to protect human, animal and plant life and health, is critical for national and international production and trade. The growing impact of globalisation and increased agricultural trade creates more potential for the spread and introduction of pests and diseases. Animal and plant pests and diseases not only affect food safety and security, but also threaten biological diversity and the status of natural resources. This has important consequences for agricultural economic development and competitiveness of South Africa in the global sphere.

Ensuring a sound biosecurity system has a direct impact on the achievement of the National Development Plan (Vision 2030), the Integrated Growth and Development Plan, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and more importantly, the Strategic Plan of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the flagship food security initiative, Fetsa Tlala.

Source: Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP), page 78

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)

Find notes on all of the DAFF directorates at (take the “Branches” menu option).

More information can be obtained from:

Directorate: Plant Health Tel: 012 319 6102/6130/6207 (PlantHealthPermits [at]

This Directorate manages all risks associated with plants and plant products to protect South African agriculture from quarantine and regulated pests.

Quarantine Stations:

  • Buffelspoort / Marikana – 014 572 3120
  • Stellenbosch – 021 809 1600
  • Bloemfontein – 051 447 6227
  • Cape Town International Airport – 021 934 6824
  • Durban – 031 337 2755
  • Johannesburg International Airport – 011 390 2579
  • Port Elizabeth – 041 484 2725
  • East London – 043 722 1978
  • Nelspruit – 013 755 4527
  • Oudtshoorn – 044 279 1744

An info pak from DAFF of particular relevance is “Procedures to be followed when importing plants and plant products into South Africa”. These can be viewed under the “Resource Centre” option at, or obtained from the Resource Centre at 012 319 7141.5 June 2018].

Read about import and export procedures at

04 Sep 2018

By agri handbook