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Advances in technology are having a big impact on a broad range of industries, provoking intense debate about the future of work.

Workers across the world are increasingly aware of what many consider an existential threat to a wide array of jobs. Safe and efficient autonomous vehicles, for example, may make truck drivers obsolete in the not too distant future. At the same time, advocates of technology argue, people around the planet are finding new and often better opportunities thanks to continuing industrial innovation. The world of work is changing, from Silicon Valley to the Nile Valley, where Spotlight visited to discover how developments in agri-technology are revolutionising crop cultivation.

Once part of the desert, a camomile field near Faiyum southwest of Cairo, now provides a seasonal income opportunity for local women. Faiyum is one of Egypt’s poorest provinces, with particularly high female unemployment. Hundreds of women are employed here, and business is growing, thanks to new technologies.

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“These women come from nearby villages,” says Om Said, a local entrepreneur. “There are always people there in need of work. For them, it means for living. With new technologies, we can deliver more product in shorter time. The drying process now only takes two days. This greatly speeds up the production.”

At harvest time, around 200 workers process up to 300 tons of camomile. The plants are dried in a fast and hygienic way using a solar heat collector. The technology was developed by local researchers a few years ago and since greatly enhanced, spinning off a business creating high- and low-level jobs across Egypt, according to Prof. Wael Abdelmoez, and environment and energy expert and founder of R&D Tech.

“High level, which covers the engineers and PhD holders who are already working on the design and supervision of the manufacturing of solar driers; the labourers, who are working running the facility itself; and the females, who are working in the field itself, whose numbers have increased dramatically”.

Green jobs are on the rise in a region that long relied on cheap fossil fuels. Amid climate change and shrinking oil subsidies, greener alternatives appear to stimulate local economies.

“It means more traction: we can export more, so we can buy more from the locals, we employ more people to do this post-harvesting processing, sieving and packaging, so it’s a lot of economic activity going on,” says Heba Labib, whose company Nile’s Gift exports medicinal herbs and spices.

Experts say Egypt’s move to a greener economy will create jobs, generate technologies and draw greater investment.

But what of concerns that advances in technology will have the opposite effect on jobs? Nothing to worry about, according to Boston start-up Harvest Automation.

The manufacturers say their robots aren’t killing jobs. Quite the opposite: they help growers hire more workers who want to do something more valuable than just moving plants around.

“Everyone would rather do other jobs, whether it’s tending to the plants as they are growing, or driving a tractor, or other things,” maintains Grinnell. “My customers have a challenge just finding workers to do this kind of work.”

Source: euronews.com

 

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