Agriculture contributes 2.4% to the national economy, employs around 810 000 people and is key to securing food security in South Africa. Following crop production or cultivation of crops, fruit, vegetables, fibre and grains, for example, is harvested manually or with machinery. As a key part of the agricultural value chain, crops need to be carefully picked at the right time to be processed, packaged and distributed for consumption.
Harvesters or pickers work in small teams with other harvesters on farms, exposed to the natural elements. They work with ladders, mechanical hoists, spades and other equipment and are required to wear protective clothing such as gloves, boots, overalls etc. Work can be seasonal, depending on the crop.
Harvesters or pickers need to be able to identify crops and know when and how to pick crops without causing damage, and will also benefit from:
Select and harvest crops according to size, shape and colour
Load crops into containers or bind crops into manageable bundles and bales
Prepare work sites and strategically manage crops into workable units
Transport crops to collection sites, preparing and assisting the loading of goods onto conveyors, trucks, trailers or containers
Harvesters or pickers can benefit from a National Certificate in Plant Production at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 and 2 offered at Peritum Agri Institute, Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, Vineyard Academy, CTC College, Ekurhuleni Agricultural College and Tompi Seleka College of Agriculture. However, most training takes place on the job with mentoring by experienced farm workers.