Farmworkers vision

Improving the lives of our employees is the core focus of our Agri-funds ESG budgets. In 2018, our funds prioritised farmworker eyecare, after becoming aware of the high prevalence of untreated eye and vision problems in rural communities.

Socio-economic and historical disadvantages, and a lack of facilities, means most farmworkers have never even considered having their eyes tested. They are often unaware that they may have impaired vision or even potentially more serious problems, such as colour blindness or incipient eye disease.

Agrivision eliminates some of these barriers by taking a testing facility directly to the farms and providing free tests.

The advantages of eye testing go beyond the provision of spectacles, as early warning signs are frequently detected of glaucoma and other diseases that could lead to blindness, if left untreated. These workers are given a referral to a clinic for further tests and treatment, if necessary. There are obvious advantages to the farm operator having an effective eye-care programme on the farm. Any vision impairment may affect a worker’s ability to carry out their job, particularly in a packhouse situation. Productivity is not impacted as the test only takes three minutes per employee (or up to fifteen minutes if any refractive errors are detected or further testing is needed).

Over the past five years, the Agrivision Initiative has been implemented on the Piketberg, Bonathaba/Zwartfontein, Brandwacht, Leeu Gamka and De Riviere farms. Over 900 employees have had their eyes tested and approximately 60% of the individuals assessed have been issued with spectacles. The cost of the spectacles is covered either directly by the Fund’s ESG budget or by the workers’ ESG-funded medical aid, where applicable.

We continue to remain in touch with farmworker needs and how best to support and improve their working conditions and quality of life.