BRIGHT FUTURE FOR NEW LEADERS
By Elise-Marie Steenkamp
Twelve fruit farm production managers recently completed a year-long leadership programme aimed at developing human capital on-farms. The twelve graduated recently and received their diplomas at a ceremony in Tulbagh.
In 2019 Hortgro along with a discretionary grant from AgriSETA, funded the design and pilot phases of a Leadership Development Assessment Centre for Production Managers – Mazars Advisory was the service provider. As a problem-solving component of the course, the production managers had to work together to increase productivity and morale amongst seasonal workers.
Speaking about the project, Albert Niewenhuis from Dutoit Agri said, that “we all want the same things in life”. “The sooner management realises that everyone on the farm, including seasonal workers, want the same things, the better it would be for everyone.”
He emphasised that seasonal workers as a labour component are a crucial part of a successful harvest season. “We have to understand that these workers are essentially uprooted for months at a time. We as production managers need to put extra effort into understanding each and every worker as a person. Make them feel welcome, be interested and help them develop as a person, only then will you see commitment and productivity will as a result increase.”
Rowayne Syster from The Fruit Farm Group spoke about the value of the programme in general and how it helped to unlock the abilities within people “that even we didn’t know existed”.
“It is opportunities like these that help us develop and grow as human beings. We also learned, that despite our differences, by working together everyone can benefit and achieve more. We indeed are stronger together.”
Hortgro Executive Director Anton Rabe said at the ceremony that is was a proud moment for him and the industry to see the difference that such a programme could make in the lives of individuals who in turn will make differences in others’ lives.
“People are part of and the most important link in the fruit industry value chain. We are astonished by technology every day, and the impulse to mechanise is strong. Yet I think in South African agriculture there is a strong case to be made to focus on people and skills development as tools to increase production and stay economically viable.”
According to Rabe, the deciduous fruit industry spends around R5.6 million annually on education and bursary programmes, “as an investment for the future.”
“Programmes such as these prepare young people for the job they have to do. It helps to build a bridge between theory and what happens in practice on-farm. And I can tell these graduates today that they can be proud because they are in the ‘right’ industry. The fruit industry is an exciting place to be and I foresee a brilliant future for us.”
He urged the graduates to remember that education is a life-long journey. “Don’t stop here, grab every opportunity to empower and develop yourself.”
Caption: The graduation group who received their diplomas. At the back from the left: Willa Rossouw (Dutoit Agri), Gysie Hoon (Lock Lynne), WD Mallherbe (Howbill Farming), Zeetro Jansen (Graaff Fruit), Rowayne Syster (The Fruit Farm Group) , Justin Baartman (Graaff Fruit), Albert Nieuwenhuis (Dutoit Agri). Voor van links: Johan Uithaler (Elandsrivier Boerdery), Riaan Schoeman (Howbill Farming), Johan Visser (Dutoit Agri), Johannes Raal en Chris Hans (Graaff Fruit).