At each bi-annual congress the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) tries to ensure that there is an exchange of views and networking between the current business leaders and future leaders, which include top graduated students in agribusiness-related field study from across South African universities. This year’s congress was no different.
Agbiz provides an opportunity for students to exchange views on topical issues in the food and fibre sector in the form of a case study. This year the focus was on the citrus industry, particularly the Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC). One of the questions that the students had to grapple with was how SRCC will innovate to remain more competitive in a new evolving world, both from a technological and environmental perspective.
The four teams were made up of 16 students from the North-West University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Fort Hare, Stellenbosch University, University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State. The top two teams were selected to present in the final round at the congress and delegates voted for the team that impressed them the most.
Prof Johan van Rooyen, director of the Centre for Agribusiness and professor in Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University, again facilitated the competition this year.
This kind of initiative is not unique to Agbiz. Other global institutions such as the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) also have a similar practice exposing students to the global food system, while at the same time offering a good networking platform. This seeks to bridge the gap between academia and business, presenting students with practical challenges.
Our general observations from the students’ presentations is that there is creativity and deep thought amongst our students and an ability to work on tight deadlines to deliver high-quality outputs. This somewhat brings hope that the future leaders will take the South African agricultural sector to great heights.
Unfortunately there can only be one winning team and our congratulations go to the team – More than fruit – consisting of Almeru van Wyk (North-West University), Khanimamba Hulungwani (University of Pretoria), Theunis Oberholster (Stellenbosch University) and Damien Sousa de Gouveia (University of Pretoria).
Members of the runner-up team – Agri-Future – are Dipuo Boshomane (University of Pretoria), Nwabisa Dana (University of Fort Hare), Celumusa Mthimkhulu (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and Casper Nell (Stellenbosch University.
Prof van Rooyen thanked Agbiz and the sponsors for creating and supporting this great event.