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Agbiz Congress 2014: Shifts Happen! Manage them. 

The 2014 Agbiz Congress, which took place in Somerset West, Cape Town on 28-29 August 2014 is one of the major events on the food, feed, fibre and wine sectors’ agenda in South Africa.

The congress provides premier agribusiness networking opportunities for business leaders and policy makers to meet and shape the future of the South African agribusiness industry. 

Themed: "Shifts Happen! - Manage them", this year’s Agbiz Congress featured a comprehensive programme which focused on threats, risks and opportunities brought about by major shifts in the socio-political and economic power dynamics across the globe, and how to manage them. These significant shifts in the power dynamics across the globe have resulted in a multipolar growth world, with changed dynamics and structural stresses in both the Developed Market (DM) and Emerging Market (EM) countries. South Africa is not immune to these dynamics and challenges, and even has additional transformation imperatives that make fundamental society shifts inevitable and necessary. 

Shared economic growth and food security imperatives are driving policy and legislation development on an unprecedented scale, while economic considerations and consumer demands are also driving agro-food system development in a particular direction. The question is thus not whether these major shifts will or are happening, but it is about identifying the threats, risks and opportunities these shifts bring, and how you manage them. 

The Agbiz Student Case Competition was hosted during the Agbiz Congress. The competition provided an opportunity for top students from major universities across the country to compete in a contest where they had to analyse a real world case and to develop strategic recommendations for addressing key issues in the case.  The teams presented their recommendations to a panel of judges and the two best teams presented to the congress. The congress voted for the best team. Sixteen top agricultural economics and agribusiness students were selected to participate in this initiative.  

They were divided into four teams which each received the same case concerning the crisis situation of Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC), operating in the citrus industry where citrus black spot (CBS) is threatening South Africa’s access to the EU market.  The teams presented their recommendations to a panel of judges and the two best teams presented to the congress. The congress voted for the best team and the prize for the winning team was sponsored by Syngenta. 

"The competition was challenging and required us to think out if the box for innovative strategies," says Ayanda Demana, student from the University of Pretoria. "In the final round we had to present to 250 congress attendees, which were the most people I have ever presented to. At first, I was nervous. However in the end I truly enjoyed it. It introduced me to public speaking on a grand scale."