Sunflower Oil Production. How to start now?


Starting a sunflower oil farming or production business is capital intensive, but it is a money spinning business if it is well located and if you are able to create a robust distribution network.

Why start a Sunflower Oil farming/production business?

It is almost certified that no entrepreneur would want to go into any business that has slim chances of making a profit, hence the need to start a business whose products or services is accepted and used by all. One such business is the production of sunflower oil. It is a fact that all homes, restaurants, hotels and related businesses make use of oil on a daily basis.

Sunflowers are large plants and are grown throughout the world because of their relatively short growing season. Sunflower plants reach various heights, but most are from 1.52-2.1m tall. The diameter of the flower heads is relatively large, typically between 7.62 and 15.24cm, although some can measure more than 30cm. A common characteristic of sunflowers is a tendency for their flowering heads to follow the movement of the sun during the day. This phenomenon, called heliotropism, has the benefit of reducing damage from birds and preventing the development of disease.

Sunflowers are used to make oil, meal and confectionery products. Oil and meal are processed from the same sunflower seed varieties. The seed variety used for confectionery products has a lower percentage of oil. The seed is usually black with white stripes and is larger than the seed cultivated for oil extraction; the hull is heavier and less firmly attached to the kernel, and its oil content rarely exceeds 35%. Sunflower oil manufacture involves cleaning the seeds, grinding them, pressing and extracting the crude oil from them, and further refining. In extracting the oil, a volatile hydrocarbon such as hexane is used as a solvent to extract the oil.


Production Areas

Sunflower seed is produced mostly in the 6 provinces out of the 9 provinces excluding Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN. North West and the Free State produce a significant number of approximately 85% of sunflower seed. Sunflower seed can be planted from the beginning of November to the end of December, which is almost the same time for maize plantings..


Sunflower seed provides 40-50% of oil, which is mostly processed to cooking oil. The cooking oil is used on a daily basis in households, restaurants, and various food industries. Sunflower is the basic raw material for the preparation of margarine and spreads, used daily by millions of people. Some pet food also contains oil-seed raw material. In desperate times sunflower oil can also be converted to diesel for use in diesel engines as bio-fuel.


Sunflower seed production is very suitable for the South African climatic conditions and is performing well for income generation to the rest of the agriculture sector. There is  a big lack of black economic empowerment in this industry and also in the seed trade industry in general. The fact that the growth season of sunflower is short, added to its drought tolerance; it can serve as an ideal alternative crop on low potential soils when it is late to plant maize.


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