DA POLICIES HELPING THE SUCCESS OF FARMWORKER EMPOWERMENT

Alta Rossouw MPP

Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Western Cape Provincial Parliament

During a Parliamentary sitting in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament on Thursday, October 25, 2012, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gerrit van Rensburg, replied to my following question:

(a) What projects has his Department undertaken since June 2009 with a view to improving the lives of farmworkers in the Western Cape and (b) (i) what has the extent of the projects been to date and (ii) what success has been achieved in this regard?

The Minister replied that the projects were focused on addressing the challenging aspects of farmworkers lives, such as skills development, ensuring that children are water-safe, the challenges surrounding HIV/Aids, the prevention of substance abuse, foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The department also supported publications which concentrate specifically on the issues of farmworkers, such as education, life-skills, health and leadership development.

Since 2009 the Department a total of 36 145 beneficiaries were reached through 88 projects which totalled R11 million. Although the Western Cape Department of Agriculture is the only Provincial Department which has a dedicated unit for farmworker programmes, it receives no financial support from the National Department.

Nevertheless the following successes were achieved:

Critical social issues such as substance abuse and family violence were addressed and thousands of farmworkers and their families benefitted from the training. A marked decline in abuse has been reported by NPOs and NGOs.

Financial support to various publications made it possible to reach more than 150 000 readers per month. A considerable amount of farmworkers in remote areas could be included in the outreach.

The biggest and most successful of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s programmes remains undoubtedly the Farmworker of the Year competition. This project aims to pay tribute to the valuable and important contributions made by farmworkers to the sustainability and growth in the agricultural section.

The competition started with a mere 32 participants in 2002 and had grown to a total of 673 participants by 2009. In 2012 a total of 887 farmworkers from 15 different regions in the Western Cape participated. The award ceremony is viewed as a flagship event by the Department.

The competition has had a far reaching and lasting impact and effect on the lives of all participating farmworkers. The testimonies of personal growth, skills development and success that the contestants has experienced, speak volumes of the amazing impact and success of this competition.

The Farmworker of the Year Competition’s success has resulted in a partnership with a large chain store and received a significant financial contribution to the competition.

The support to farming communities by the Department is a commendable and a generous extension of what the Democratic Alliance expects of its executive departments. The strategic focus of the DA on this issue contributes to successful empowerment of farmworkers and assists these farmers and farmworkers in creating opportunities for themselves.

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