Opening an exhibition on the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) at parliament recently, science and technology minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane stressed that SA plans to use the 4IR opportunities to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality — but also that the country needs new skills for the industries and markets that will emerge. A point in case is the fruit sector which, as a high-value and labour-intensive industry with high export potential, is central to agriculture’s contribution to economic growth. Adopting and adapting to technological changes associated with the 4IR can have huge implications for the industry’s global position. While the country is an established world player in specific fruits, it lags behind competitors such as Mexico, Peru and Chile. SA is also yet to maximise the substantial opportunities for export growth in high-value and in-demand fruits such as berries and avocados. Research by the Centre for Competition Regulation and Economic Development (...

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