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Deciduous Fruit Industry Gala Evening Awards 2019

Media release


List of award winners 2019

·         General Agricultural Worker: Mzumkhulu Colin Sijinga

·         Specialist Agricultural Worker: Kerneels Oncker

·         Advanced Agricultural Worker: Elize Boer

·         Novice Award: Raymond Koopstad

·         Innovation Award: Sheila Storey

·         Industry Leader Award: Pieter Graaff

·         Izethelo Media Award: Landbouweekblad


 SOMERSET WEST – The South African deciduous fruit industry presented its awards for outstanding performance in agriculture at the 44th annual gala evening on 13 September 2019. Deciduous fruit includes apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and prunes, cherries, table grapes, and dried grapes – grown mainly in the Western Cape. The deciduous fruit industry once again showed that hard work, skills development and community involvement are all key to a successful season.

Four people received awards for outstanding performance working on deciduous fruit farms specifically and three for their direct and indirect contribution to the industry:

Mzumkhulu Colin Sijinga from Kromfontein in the Koue Bokkeveld received the merit award for General Agricultural Worker of the Year for his exceptional work ethic and goal-driven mentality. Collin picks a phenomenal 8300 bags of fruit while he is also the team’s tractor driver, earning him about R12 700 above his normal wages. This past season, he was named the best tractor driver at Kromfontein, while also exhibiting outstanding pruning skills. His employers find him to be a great asset and a joy to have around. Through his hard work, Collin always carries his sense of humour with him and there is always time for a joke and a laugh.

Kerneels Oncker from Rietfontein: Graaff Fruit in the Kouebokkeveld received the Specialist Agricultural Worker of the Year merit award for his exceptional irrigation knowledge and skills. Kerneels started working at Rietfontein in 2003 and immediately showed great interest in irrigation. He was added to the irrigation team and attended various courses to gain knowledge and develop his skills, namely NQF1, irrigation and regulation courses for pumps as well as a forklift licence.  As irrigation specialist, Kerneels is responsible for 218 ha. He also has a natural aptitude for computerised systems Kerneels is known around Rietfontein for his eagerness to learn, his honesty and his leadership.

Elize Boer from Elim Farm in the Hexvallei, De Doorns received the Advanced Agricultural Worker of the Year merit award for her incredible management skills, planning abilities and care for her fellow man. Elize is the Packhouse Manager and Farm Manager of Verdorsniet Farm, divided into three farms: Môreson, Lentelus and Elim. She has three Production Managers who fall under her leadership, and constantly ensures that everyone does their jobs to the best of their abilities. Elize believes in thorough monthly planning and teaches the same principles to her colleagues. She is known to sincerely care for those around her and believes that every person deserves a second chance. Elize’s life motto is “stop learning when you’re dead” and she wants to create such teaching opportunities for those around her as well.

Raymond Koopstad in the Breederiver Valley received the Future Generation Award for his exceptional performance and intelligent decision-making as a new entrant to the deciduous fruit entity. Koopstad showed what can be done when beneficiaries of land reform are serious about agriculture and have the right support and partnerships. Raymond just had his first very successful crop of nectarines on La Vouere since partnering with Georgie Hewitt and Pieter Wolfaardt from Verdun Estate. Currently, they have 20.5 ha planted and will soon expand with an additional 12 ha, with a medium-term goal of reaching 50 ha by 2021. This expansion is creating plenty of new jobs in the area. Raymond believes that agriculture offers some of the best opportunities for wealth and job creation when it comes to transformation.

Sheila Storey, a world-class specialist in the fields of soil life, plant performance and nematode control, received the Innovation award for her long-standing technical and scientific contribution to the deciduous fruit industry. Over her career, she has made many invaluable additions to her fields, including the founding of the commercial nematode analytical laboratory, Nemlab, which has grown into the largest private operation of the sort in South Africa; and the establishment of NemaBio (Pty), which focuses on the commercialization of entomopathogenic nematodes for the biological control of insect pests in crops.

As a strong force in the discipline of soil science, she also founded the Soil Health Center in 2015 and developed nematode control programmes and guidelines for a variety of crop production systems all over the country.

Pieter Graaff, the owner of Witzenberg Properties, received the O.S.H. Reinecke Industry Leader Award for his outstanding achievements and leadership role in the agricultural sector over the past 35 years. Pieter is the single largest individual apple producer in South Africa and was chosen by the Agricultural Writers Association as National Farmer of the Year last year. He is currently the chairman of Ceres Fruit Growers and Tru-Cape and also serves on the board of more than ten companies. Known as an innovative grower with a forward-thinking approach, Pieter has honed his skills to become one of the most influential leaders of the deciduous fruit industry. He is also a believer in constant improvement and learning, and his care for his employees makes him a very popular employer in the Ceres area.

Landbouweekblad received the Izethelo media award for agricultural journalism for 100 years of exceptional reporting and camaraderie among the South African farming community.  The current editor, Chris Burges, received the award on behalf of the magazine. Landbouweekblad teaches the farmer to farm scientifically, stay market-orientated, manage his or her finances properly and lean on each other as a community. For the past few decades, agriculture has remained in the political barrage with land reform, transformation, farm security, market access, droughts, and other crises. As a partner, Landbouweekblad takes the lead in helping during crises while at other times, plays a supporting role.

Vir die persverklaring in Afrikaans, kliek hier: presser-gala-aand-afr-en-eng-final

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