Agricultural Economics Students Shine at Agbiz CongressAgriculture, Engineering & Science

The winning team: Mr Njabulo Nkosi of UKZN, Mr Luan van der Walt, Ms Carmen van Niekerk and Ms Frieda Scheepers.The winning team: Mr Njabulo Nkosi of UKZN, Mr Luan van der Walt, Ms Carmen van Niekerk and Ms Frieda Scheepers.

One of the three Masters students from the Discipline of Agricultural Economics in UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences who took part in the Student Case Competition at the annual Agbiz Congress was a member of the winning team. 

The students were Mr Njabulo Nkosi (sponsored by Syngenta), Ms Pilela Majokweni (sponsored by FNB) and Ms Nonthando Buthelezi (sponsored by Signa), with Nkosi participating in the winning team.  

Students from several universities across the country were represented including North-West University, the University of the Free State, the University of Fort Hare, the University of Pretoria and the University of Stellenbosch. 

The Student Case Competition involved 16 students, grouped into groups of four, who were required to develop a business plan for a small, medium, and micro enterprise (SMME), in this case, De Fynne Nursery, which sells indigenous plants. 

Within five hours, the teams had to develop a plan that combatted expansion challenges threatening the nursery’s growth potential. Teams presented their strategies and recommendations to a panel of judges consisting of industry executives and leaders.  

Nkosi’s team used their diverse skill sets to their credit, winning the competition. Nkosi was responsible for marketing, advertising and branding within the business plan. 

‘The Congress was a really great experience,’ said Nkosi. ‘It brought together the industry’s most influential leaders and it was an honour to get a glimpse of the direction that the industry is going, with different sectors coming together to plan for the future. It was also a great platform for the students to identify which sector they fit in.’ 

Nkosi and his classmates enjoyed the experience of being exposed to a new perspective of the industry, which they believe will contribute to their future careers. 

Nkosi is investigating links between food security, climate change and the food market value chain in his masters, while Majokweni is assessing the impact of institutional support on smallholder productivity in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal, and Buthelezi is exploring the costs and benefits analysis of investments in environmental infrastructure.

Christine Cuénod