Jun 14, 2016
On the road to awarding the Western Cape’s top agricultural worker, a series of provincial competitions are set to kick off next month.
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde and the Shoprite Group, officially launched the 2016 Western Cape Prestige Agri Awards on 13 June 2016 at Kromme Rhee near Stellenbosch.
Minister Winde said the initiative, previously known as the Farmworker of the Year competition, honoured excellence in the province’s agriculture sector.
“The Western Cape is creating the most agriculture jobs in the country. In 2015, our agriculture sector added over 80 000 jobs to the economy. Despite challenges, our agriculture sector is growing and this is due, in part, to our focus on the commodity approach, the Project Khulisa growth strategy as well as the efforts of employers and employees in this sector,” continued Minister Winde.
This initiative is co-sponsored by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Shoprite Group.
Shoprite has been involved with this initiative for the last 5 years. As Africa’s largest retailer, Shoprite goes directly to farmers, through Freshmark, the group’s fruit and vegetable procurement and distribution arm, to bring customers freshness at the lowest price. Shoprite is proud to partner with the Western Cape Prestige Agri Awards competition as it honours farmworkers making a significant contribution to South Africa’s economy.
“This year, we have decided to rename the competition to the Western Cape Prestige Agri Awards, which better describes our approach to the competition. One of my missions in this portfolio is to restore dignity to agriculture and I believe we are achieving this through initiatives such as these awards. It is our privilege to be able to honour the men and women who take our agriculture sector forward, generating jobs for fellow residents, and growth in our economy,” added Minister Winde.
The first of 15 regional competitions is set to take place in the Witzenberg region on 28 July 2016.
A winner, runner-up and second runner-up will be selected in each of the following 11 categories:
• General Worker
• Tractor Driver
• Administrative Personnel
• Animal Production
• Technical Operator
• Irrigation Specialist
• Social Development
• Junior Management
• Middle Management
The overall winner in each region will then go through to the provincial competition.
The Western Cape’s top agricultural worker will be announced during a gala ceremony on Saturday, 5 November 2016. The overall winner receives a cash prize, Shoprite vouchers and an overseas trip.
As part of the judging process, entrants are scored on their overall knowledge of the agriculture sector and finance issues in the country and on-farm, including budgeting and costing. Entrants are assessed on topics such as Black Economic Empowerment and the export chain. Experience and agricultural skills are also key criteria.
Last year’s winner, Alexious Shoko, from Piket Bo-berg, travelled to India as part of his prize. During this trip, Shoko attended conferences where topics such as improving levels of agricultural production were discussed. He also conducted site visits to farms in India. Shoko said he received calls from the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France after reading articles about his win.
“I feel highly honoured to get such an award and I appreciate everyone who made it happen, my colleagues, my manager, my employer, Shoprite and the Department of Agriculture and my community. I got connected to the world outside the farm as well as outside Africa through this award.”
Shoko said the award inspired him to make a positive difference.
“I gained confidence that I can make a significant contribution to the development of Moutons Valley farm, and the agriculture industry in South Africa, especially in the Western Cape.
“It is now easier to motivate my children because they wish to be like me. I am now a mentor to many young people, as well as people working in farming and other industries.”
Over 6000 agriculture employees have entered the competition since 2002. In 2015, 1 247 residents participated in the competition, a 20% increase from the previous year.