Posted on July 06, 2016
Students from the University of Pretoria (UP) recently participated in the Agbiz Congress – a very successful student promotion programme that has been running since 2008 – where top graduated students in agribusiness-related fields get the opportunity to meet and engage with industry leaders. During the 2012 Congress, it held its inaugural student case competition to provide students with opportunities to showcase their academic abilities, skills and expertise, while finding practical and commercially viable answers to real-world issues. Since then, the competition has evolved into one of the premium events at the Congress in terms of both attendance and sponsorship.
This year the four participating teams consisted of 16 students from UP, the University of Fort Hare (UFH), Stellenbosch University (SU), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), North-West University (NWU) and the University of the Free State (UFS). Each team was made up of members from different universities.
The case study that the students had to work on focussed on South Africa's indigenous plants industry. Each team had five hours to develop a business plan for De Fynne Nursery, a South African business that falls into the small, medium, and micro enterprise (SME) category, which is facing expansion challenges that could affect its potential for growth.
The teams presented their strategies and recommendations to a panel of judges comprised of industry executives and leaders: Messrs Nico Groenewald (Head of Agriculture at Standard Bank), Sean Walsh (MD at Kaap Agri), Andre Uys (MD at Overberg Agri) and Melcus Nel (Director at Signa).
The top two teams were selected to present their plans in the final round at the congress, after which delegates voted for the team that impressed them the most.
This year, the facilitators of the competition were Prof Johan van Rooyen, President of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, Director of the Centre for Agribusiness and Professor in Agricultural Economics at the University of Stellenbosch, as well as Johan Boonzaaier, a PhD student and researcher at the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy.
Prof van Rooyen said that selecting and developing a good case study, interpreting the case and proposing a good strategic and innovative solution that can be implemented in the real world, and finally selecting a best team are all daunting tasks. 'Case studies can and should however also be exciting and fun. This year's competition had all of these elements – it truly was a great experience for all. The competitors were exceptionally strong and they should be proud of their achievements,' he says.
This year's winning team were sponsored by Syngenta. The members were Carmen van Niekerk (UP), Frieda Scheepers (NWU), Luan van der Walt (UFS) and Njabulo Nkosi (UKZN). The team who came in second place were Michaela Zietsman (NWU), Tatenda Mutungira (UP), Hannes van der Merwe (SU) and Dominique Bougard (UFS). Other participants were Pascalina Mohlotsane (UFS), Jaimé Manuel (SU), Putuma Quqani (UFH), Nothando Sharon Buthelezi (UKZN), Sanelise Tafa (UFH), Struan Garland (UP), Pilela Majokweni (UKZN) and Manzi Sishi (SU).
The winning team received a trip on the Blue Train from Johannesburg to Cape Town. John Deere Financial sponsored the students' return transport as well as their attendance of a leadership summit in conjunction with Bathopele and ABSA AgriBusiness.
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