Western Cape honours and celebrates agri workers

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The winners in the various categories of the Western Cape Prestige Agri Awards (WCPAA) 2023, as well as the overall winner of the competition, were announced at the annual gala ceremony at the Protea Hotel Marriot Techno Park in Stellenbosch on 4 November.

A total of 1 067 agri workers participated in the 2023 competition. They competed against each other in eleven different categories at a regional level, in 15 different regions. The regional winners of each category went through to the provincial level, where they competed to win the provincial category award, as well as the coveted title of the overall winner, namely, the Western Cape Prestige Agri Worker of the Year 2023.

2023 Agricultural Worker of the Year

Vivian Jakobs, production manager at the Du Toit Group’s Crispy Farming from Witzenberg (Ceres) was announced as the 2023 Western Cape Prestige Agricultural Worker of the Year. He currently manages approximately 68ha of apples and pears. This includes everything from the basic production decisions (pruning, harvesting, fertilising, irrigation) to people management. He manages 76 permanent workers which can increase to 220 workers during harvest time.

Jakobs said winning the competition meant a lot to him. “The recognition and appreciation are very important to us as farm workers. It gives exposure to me and the other farm workers. We need to understand that the farm worker is someone who goes to work early in the morning and works until late at night, through wet, dry and difficult conditions. They know they have to put bread on the table, whether it is for their family or the world.”

He said the competition has been a wonderful journey for him. “To all the producers, agri workers and representatives from the different regions, we are one. Our main purpose is to ensure that the man on the street gets the best possible products on their table. We need to ensure that there is food today, tomorrow, and the days after. Let us put in all our effort to ensure that.”

The prizes Jakobs won include an overseas study trip to the value of R80 000, prize money of R25 000 from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, a R12 000 gift card from Shoprite, a R10 000 gift card from Daleen Turner Consultancy and a R500 gift card from Woolworths. Jakobs is also now a member of the Prestige Agricultural Workers Forum in the Western Cape.

Read more about Potatoes SA and the Western Cape government’s collaboration.

Category and regional winners

The winners of the eleven different categories are:

  • General worker: Seline Arries, Piket-Bo-Berg.
  • Irrigation specialist: Keenan Carstens, Franschhoek.
  • Driver: Mziwanele Fata, Franschhoek.
  • Animal production: Winston Antas, Swartland.
  • Technical operator, Jacques van Wyk, Piket-Bo-Berg.
  • Agri-processing: Anchen de Peers, Central Karoo.
  • Social development: Samantha Johannes, Franschhoek.
  • Administrative personnel: Veronica Campher, Stellenbosch.
  • Forewoman/foreman: Chirmonay Willemse, Breedevalley.
  • Junior management: Luvo Nukani, Witzenberg.
  • Middle management: Vivian Jakobs, Witzenberg.

Regional winners are as follows:

  • Lekgotla Mabombo (Bergrivier).
  • Bernard Louw (Breede Valley).
  • Tashwill Toto (Central Karoo).
  • Lance du Toit (Elgin, Grabouw, Vyeboom and Villiersdorp).
  • Simon Zeeman (Franschhoek).
  • Ntombifuthi Mphetshwa (Garden Route).
  • Thomas Oosthuizen (Klein Karoo).
  • Mabonele Molefi (Hexvallei).
  • Jacobus Fredericks (Langeberg).
  • Hermiena Hendricks (Piket-Bo-Berg).
  • Priscilla Hektor (Olifantsrivier).
  • Dirk Joubert (Overberg).
  • Ronald Jordaan (Stellenbosch).
  • Marlon Coert (Swartland).
  • Vivian Jakobs (Witzenberg).

Stephen Satira of the Breede Valley region was hailed as the agri worker who displayed the best potential in this year’s competition. Franschhoek Region was announced as the best-performing region.

Awards acknowledge the contribution of agri workers

The WCPAA competition is a collaboration with Shoprite Pty (Ltd) as the main sponsor and aims to acknowledge the valuable contribution that agri workers make to the sustainability and growth of the agricultural sector in the Western Cape.

Dr Ivan Meyer, Western Cape minister of agriculture, said hosting the WCPAA provides an opportunity to honour and celebrate the agri workers who were classified as “essential workers” during the Covid-19 pandemic, thus emphasising their importance and significance in the agricultural sector and its growth.

“As provincial minister of agriculture, I am extremely proud of the quality of our agri workers entering our competition. I view this competition to be important because it provides due recognition to the hardworking agri workers who support this sector’s growth. And thus, an investment in agri workers is an investment in the future of farming.”

Pieter van Zyl, general manager of procurement at Shoprite Freshmark, said: “Shoprite Checkers is proud to be associated with this competition. One that highlights the positive stories in agriculture. We are also very thankful for the opportunity to be able to give back to the agricultural community which has supported us through the years. We are all involved in the agri worker competition for the love of and passion for agriculture because we all play a cardinal role in food security not just in the Western Cape but in the whole of South Africa.”

“On behalf of the minister of agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, together with the head of the department, Dr Mogale Sebopetsa, we would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Vivian Jakobs on being awarded this prestigious title. We are certain that he will inspire many other agri workers to persevere and to feel proud of their invaluable role within the agricultural sector and by extension the economy of the Western Cape.” – Compiled by Hugo Lochner, Plaas Media

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