Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year Crowned
Karools Paulse, a senior farm manager for Mouton Citrus in Citrusdal, was crowned the 2013 Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year at a gala event in Stellenbosch on Friday evening.
Paulse manages a 50 hectare citrus farm. He is also an irrigation installation expert and oversees this function on all the Mouton farms in the area.
More than 670 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 contributed R750 000 to the 2013 competition.
Mr Brian Weyers, a director of the Shoprite Group, said they are proud to be part of this competition and they see themselves as a very fitting partner. “Shoprite recognises the valuable contribution farm workers make towards the agriculture sector by sponsoring the Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year awards”.
Paulse received a prize package of R100 000, which includes cash, study bursaries, and an overseas study tour related to market access.
Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development used the opportunity to invite other provinces in South Africa to join the Farm Worker competition initiative.
Van Rensburg said the Western Cape will assist provinces wanting to take part in the competition, which is currently only hosted in the Western Cape. He said the Farm Worker competition is an important initiative which acknowledges the crucial work farm workers do in South Africa. "Thank you to all farm workers in South Africa. Thank you for providing the food we eat each day of the year."
Van Rensburg said the 2013 competition saw the most entries yet, at 923.
The De Doorns region saw entries grow from 80 in 2012, to 113 in 2013. The Swartland region grew from 19 entries to 30 and the Elgin, Grabouw, Vyeboom and Villiersdorp region experienced the highest growth, from 39 in 2012, to 109 in 2013.
He said this positive growth in a year marred by violent protests was prove that there are enough positive people in agriculture to make a success of the sector.
Van Rensburg referred to mechanisation in agriculture and the fact that many farm workers are concerned about this trend, as it is seen as a threat to their employment. He said workers must remain at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines. “It is true that mechanisation is taking place in agriculture. But you need to be the people who operate these new machines. Machines need to be programmed, serviced and fixed when they break. See mechanisation as an opportunity for career advancement and not as a threat to job security.”
Van Rensburg called on the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to ensure that farm workers become the beneficiaries of agricultural land reform projects. “Government should help those people who are already expressing their passion and skills for farming with access to agricultural land. Farm workers are those people. It is my wish to see the winners of this competition when I visit land reform projects”