The Western Cape Government today (2 November 2017) announced the findings of its province-wide household census of residents working on farms, which it undertook as a key study to inform future policy.

The three-year Agri Worker Household Census is the most comprehensive database of agricultural workers in South Africa. It has already resulted in a series of government and private sector programmes to improve the lives of residents working in agriculture.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, along with officials from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the private sector, today briefed the media on the findings.

“After the strikes in agriculture in 2012, we put a plan in place to identify the biggest challenges facing employees in the sector. We collected this data so that we could develop an action plan to resolve these issues. Through this survey, we’re able to understand the plights and challenges of our farming communities’ right down to household level. We can also take a broader view to assess trends in specific districts.

“This document will be a critical informant as we develop our strategic plan for 2019 to 2024. Noting the urgency of some needs, however, we have already put a number of programmes in place. This is the most comprehensive, evidence-driven approach to addressing the challenges in our rural communities.”

Minister Winde said towards the end of this financial year, the Department of Agriculture would roll out mobile app for all senior managers in government, where all the key figures will be stored.

“Through this app, all senior managers will have access to the data, down to ward level. This will be a vital tool in planning services for rural communities across all departments.”

Key figures from the census:

  • 2 991 farms participated;
  • 11 028 households surveyed;
  • 42 928 residents covered;
  • The majority of the respondents (31.2%) were aged between the ages of 19 – 34;
  • In total, 45.1% earned an income of between R2500 and R4999

Minister Winde said the census showed that growth and job creation in agriculture must continue to be a key priority.

“The census tells us that over the next 15 years, 34% of the respondents will be entering the job market, while 12% of the participants will be leaving.

“To accommodate the rise in work-seekers, agriculture must see economic growth of between 8% to10%.

“We are prioritising agriculture and agri processing through our Project Khulisa strategy. Since 2014, 127 000 jobs have been added in these sectors. We know that threats like the drought and avian influenza will put this jobs growth under pressure going forward.”

The following focus areas were investigated during the census:

Education and Skills Development

Key findings:

8.5% of residents had obtained matric, and 1% had received tertiary education. The reasons residents gave for leaving school included no money for fees, and a feeling that education did not benefit them.

Response to date:

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture established the Agricultural Programme for Youth Development (APFYD) to respond to the need for skills raised during the agricultural strikes and rural unrest in the De Doorns area.  When it was started, the programme was only offered to young people living in rural communities. It has since expanded to include all young people. This initiative is a partnership between the department, the agriculture sector and tertiary institutions.  Thirty-three farmers and industry stakeholders are serving as mentors and host employers to these beneficiaries.

Since 2014, 85 APFYD interns have been appointed on farms with External Host Employers; 102 bursaries and 12 scholarships, ranging from Grade 7 to 12 have been awarded to agri worker children to further their studies in agriculture. Over the same period, 42 learnerships were offered through Elsenburg College. A further 13 graduate and student interns have received workplace integrated learning through this initiative.

In addition, we provide 15 bursaries for study at Elseburg College each year to students who live on farms.

A partnership with the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) has resulted in 4724 agri workers receiving training in the Introduction to Ethical Trading and Codes, Occupational Health and Safety, Chemical Handling, Committee Training, Labour Law for Farm Workers etc.

The Western Cape Department of Education is committed to improving education outcomes. The Overberg District achieved a pass rate of 81.1% in 2009 when we took office. Since then they have increased their pass rate to 92.1%, which is up from 89.6% in 2015. They were also the top performing district in the Country. 

The West Coast District achieved a pass rate of 83.5% in 2009 which increased to 87.5% in 2016 (down from 88.9% in 2015) 

The Cape Winelands District achieved a pass rate of 77.2% in 2009 which increased to 84.7% in 2016 (up from 83.6% in 2015) 

The Eden and Karoo District achieved a pass rate of 79.3% in 2009 which increased to 84.7% in 2016 (down from 85.1% in 2015)

The Western Cape is the only province where all districts achieved over an 80% pass rate. 

Social Development

Key findings:

In total, 57.3% of the households surveyed receive one or more social grants.

Households said they needed assistance to deal with issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse, foster care and child maintenance.

Response to date:

The Department of Social Development has ongoing interventions that serve families on farms in need of services through its local and regional offices, and through partnerships with NGOs.

Substance abuse services in this region include early intervention, community-based treatment services, and in-patient treatment. Special attention is paid to early prevention for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which is 100% preventable, and 100% incurable.

Other services which cater to farm workers include out of centre facilities for children, ECD services, and service centres for older persons.

Community participation

Key findings:

Results indicated that the most common form of social participation for households was being part of a religious group (7816).

At a far lower number, only 5.3% of households reported participation in Political parties or trade unions.

Conclusion

Minister Winde said: “Now that we have the results of the census, and have analysed them, we have a far better understanding of the needs and challenges of our residents in rural communities. We also have an understanding of the hopes they have for their futures, and how we can assist them to grasp these opportunities.

“We have already started implementing programmes to assist in the most critical areas which need to be addressed.

“Going forward, we will use this census to inform our 2019 to 2024 action plan for the Western Cape Government. This will result in new programmes across a range of departments, aimed at addressing the challenges faced by rural residents. The process for developing Strategic Plan 2019 – 2024 is shortly due to commence, and I will ensure that this census plays a leading role in these deliberations.

“Our rural communities are critical contributors to our economy, and to jobs across the province. We must support them to the fullest by delivering services in accordance with their needs – needs which we now fully grasp and can respond to.”

Infographics can be accessed here.


Bronwynne Jooste
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture
Western Cape Government
142 Long Street, Cape Town

Tel: 021 483 3550
Cell: 060 970 4301
Email: bronwynne.jooste@westerncape.gov.za
Website:  www.elsenburg.com  |  www.westerncape.gov.za
Twitter: bronwynnejooste