Willem Paulse from the Witzenberg region was announced as the Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year on Friday evening at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture's annual gala event, held at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.
Paulse is the Financial Manager for a Ceres based fruit export farm. He received a prize comprising of R20 000 in cash, a R50 000 overseas trip, and a R20 000 study bursary from the University of Stellenbosch. Paulse started his career as an administrative clerk, and has been working in financial administration for the past 27 years.
Paulse said he enjoys working in the agricultural sector, and hopes that the Farm worker Competition will encourage and inspire other farm workers to use the opportunities available to them in order to progress in their careers.
The 2012 farm worker competition saw more than 900 entries from 15 regions compete. Workers competed in 9 categories, ranging from General Worker to Senior Management. Paulse was the winner of the Senior Management category.
The Competition is funded to the tune of R1.2 million by the Farm Worker Development Programme of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. This Programme is the only one of its kind in South Africa. The Programme's budget for the current financial year is R12 million. 1294 farm workers were supported with training courses during the past year. The Programme has seven full time social workers who specialises in farm worker related issues.
The Farm Worker Competition received a helpful boost this year through a sponsorship deal, worth R750 000 by Shoprite, to assist with the upliftment of farmworkers, a sector of our population that receives very little acknowledgement for their contribution in the process of getting food from farm to fork.
The Farm Worker Competition was initiated in 2000 in the Hex Valley when Minister van Rensburg and local table grape producer, Elsa Jordaan, saw the need for giving recognition to farm workers who excel in their work. The Hex River won four category first prizes on Friday evening.