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SA’s future hinges ON THE YOUTH

Youth Month seems a suited time to challenge the quote, “Youth is wasted on the young,” attributed to George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. On the contrary, most young people are grabbing the opportunities that vehicles like the 4th Industrial Revolution bring, and are ‘running with them’.

Our youth deserve to be celebrated and acknowledged. Yet in Q1 20201, they mostly found themselves in the throes of a youth unemployment rate of 63,3%, of the total number of unemployed South Africans.

Within this group (aged 15 – 34) 43,2% were unemployed, with the 15 – 24 years age group being highlighted as the most vulnerable (reflecting a 59,0% unemployment rate).

Fortunately, the fruit industry needs no convincing when it comes to the value that the youth can add – they are an integral part of the industry growth strategy. The fruit industry offers various bursaries, and spearheads initiatives through which top-performing graduates are recruited and mentored to enjoy long, rewarding careers within the industry, or elsewhere in the agricultural sector. These often set promising young people on a completely different life trajectory. In this edition we feature an insert dedicated to our youth, highlighting (amongst other things) the importance of striking a healthy balance between recruiting young minds and maximising existing industry experience; and we share the views of our own youth who express excitedly why they’re so passionate about the industry, and how they are contributing to its sustainable growth.

Another important aspect of the industry growth agenda is market access, particularly penetrating new markets to absorb the growing production volumes of SA’s world-class fruit. But this can only be achieved through favourable trade negotiations initiated by SA’s government with targeted international markets. In the foreword Justin Chadwick (CGA CEO) elaborates on this critical industry focus.

Also, in this edition we explore the industry’s plastics usage, mitigators and best practices, in the first of a series of updates; we share context around the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables; and view SA’s fruit in the context of the southern hemisphere.

Technical content includes the use of nets, table grape quality, and the use of cold treatment for blueberries.

Indeed, SA’s youth deserve better than the proverbial cards they’ve been dealt. This vibrant sector of society, brimming with promise and innovative solutions, has the right to meaningful participation in SA’s economy. Perhaps then Youth Month will be a cause for celebration.

1June 2020 StatsSA Vulnerability of youth in the South African labour market

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