Top Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year for 2014 crowned
Jerome Thomas, a general manager at Kanonkop Wine Estate, Stellenbosch walked away with the coveted Farm Worker of the Year 2014 title on Friday night at a prestige event held in Stellenbosch. “This has been a dream of mine for the past six years and I finally won through hard work and perseverance.” Thomas received a prize package of R100 000, which includes cash; study bursaries, and an overseas study tour related to market access.
Nearly 700 farm workers and farmers attended the function. The Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year Competition is hosted by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Shoprite. Shoprite generously contributed R750 000 to the 2014 Competition.
Mr Pieter van Zyl, head of procurement at Freshmark/Shoprite who has been part of the competition for the past 3 years said they are a proud sponsor. “The produce in our shops are the hard work of farmer and farm workers and that is the main reason why we can so aptly associate ourselves with this competition. We have a role to play in the upliftment of farm workers”.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities responsible for Agriculture in the Western Cape highlighted that agriculture contributes R14.7 billion to the Western Cape economy and creates 129 000 jobs. Over and above this, agri-processing brings in R18 billion to the Western Cape economy and creates an additional 79 000 jobs. “This sector puts food on the table of everyone and ensures that produce of excellence are sold globally. This is why farm workers play such a critical role”, said Winde.
Winde congratulated all the winners and said that he is a firm believer of competition and recognition. “As soon as you entered the competition, you were a winner and it changed your behaviour. It will be exciting to see you grow and how the difference you make change the image of this sector”. He concluded by saying, “Our children need to see that agriculture is an important sector and you have become role models and heroes for children to look up to.”
The competition saw more than a 1 000 entries from 15 different regions – a record number. It clearly underlines the philosophy of the Western Cape Government where government, the private sector and society uses opportunities like this to create a prosperous future for agriculture better together.