The South African deciduous fruit industry on Friday honoured individuals for excellence at the 46th Fruit Industry Gala Awards—in a year marked by unusual challenges and successes.
Scaled down from the usual illustrious affair, the event took place on Bernheim Farm, outside Paarl. ‘The Awards’ gives recognition to an inclusive range of individuals in the agricultural sector, such as agricultural workers, researchers, scientists and industry leaders.
According to Jacques Jordaan, chairman of the awards committee and CEO of the Canning Fruit Producers Association, the awards play a vital role in maintaining the morale of the agricultural workers and the industry as a whole. “The awards as a platform motivates and inspires people to strive for their goals and in so doing helps to build an industry that is a major player in the international fruit arena.”
According to Jordaan, the way the industry negotiated the Covid pandemic over the past year by continuing with production, harvesting, and packing without disruptions to the value-chain, showed character and backbone. “Agriculture is about people and therefore it is only apt to recognise the people that make the industry what it is.”
GENERAL AGRICULTURAL WORKER:
Xolani Nameko from Kromfontein, Dutoit Agri in the Koue Bokkeveld receives the merit award for General Agricultural Worker of the Year for being a hard-working, loyal, and quality-driven worker. Nameko started working at Kromfontein, in 2011 as a general worker performing various tasks such as pruning, thinning, and harvesting fruit.
Nameko proved himself as a hard worker who is willing to learn. He gained experience at Dutoit Agri’s Bergsig development where he was responsible for about 110 hectares. Here he ensured that everything from the training systems, irrigation, and planting of the trees was completed correctly and on time. Nameko then joined Kromfontein full time working on training systems structures for overhead nets. His manager said that Nameko added real value to the farm’s growth every season.
SPECIALIST AGRICULTURAL WORKER:
Gert Jantjies from Kromfontein, Dutoit Agri in the Koue Bokkeveld receives the merit award for Specialist Agricultural Worker of the Year for his exceptional work ethic, willingness to learn, and advanced skills as a tree pruner and team leader.
Jantjies grew up on Kromfontein and from a young age loved farm life. He started working as a general worker at Kromfontein for Dutoit Agri in the Koue Bokkeveld in 1977.
Over the years, Jantjies has increasingly proven himself as an employee who can apply the right pruning methods to different trees. He is always eager to learn new
orchard methods and became interested in graft and bud work. Later, he was appointed as a foreman that managed a specialist team of 16 people.
Jantjies is a hard-working, quality-driven, and calm employee who always puts the greatest focus in his work to ensure that the quality of the trees meets the needed requirements. He also conveys his knowledge to the people in his team excellently to help strengthen their knowledge and abilities.
Find interviews with the winners here: 2021 – Deciduous Fruit Industry Awards
Press release: 10 September 2021