Global Student Case Winners Announced at IFAMA 2014

Student Case Study Winners from Purdue University

Case study winning team from Purdue University, Indiana USA: From left to right: David Boussios, Brian Bourquard, Rachel Carnegie, John Tobin and John Lai.

The winning teams in the annual IFAMA Global Student Case Competition were announced Tuesday night at an evening event which formed part of the IFAMA People Feed the World Conference currently happening (June 15 to 19) at the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC). The winning team was from Purdue University, Indiana, USA. The second, third and fourth prices went to Santa Clara University, California, USA, Wageningen University, Netherlands and Inholland University, Netherlands.

These four teams had been selected during the preliminary round earlier during the conference from 20 teams (4 to 5 students per team) from around the globe in the IFAMA Global Student Case Competition.

The competition is in its ninth year this year and teams are presented with a case for which they have to develop and present a business plan on how they intend to implement the plan. This year the theme was how to expand the market of a multinational alcoholic beverage into African markets and also to integrate local products and services into this plan and the teams were judged accordingly.

The competition offers a venue to discuss and evaluate global industry issues and demonstrate analytical and problem solving skills before a panel of industry executives.The top 150 agribusiness students are selected to take part in the competition and attend the conference. This is an elite group of international students that have chosen agriculture and agribusiness as their field of study and excelled academically. The personal exposure and networking opportunities presented by the conference will also provide invaluable experience for all students selected to attend.

IFAMA sponsors the entry fee to the conference for the students. Students were also invited to submit short (30-second) personal videos to capture the many faces, voices and languages of the World for the collection which was edited and screened at the conference. Students were asked to say “People Feed the World” in their native tongue and illustrate where they live and study and how they contribute to the global food system.

It is fitting that this is timed during the same week as South Africa’s Youth Day (16 June) as one of the main focuses of the conference is The Talent Factor. This event celebrates and showcases the talents of a select group of international students and its venue in Cape Town is significant as it sets an example to the youth of South Africa where Agriculture and Agribusiness are not the first careers of choice.

Presenter Snapshot: Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow, Global Agriculture and Food Policy of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

New Project Explores the Significance of the First 1000 Days of Life

Roger Thurow’s distinguished record of reporting for The Wall Street Journal includes insightful writings on the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela and wars in the former Yugoslavia, and global issues, large and small. Through an exhaustive and exhausting three decades as a journalist – two of them as a global correspondent – Thurow carved a distinctive global path, giving new understanding to millions of readers.

His own “awakening” however, came in a small hut in Ethiopia in 2003. There he witnessed a father and son’s very personal and poignant struggle with starvation, prompting him and a Journal colleague Scott Kilman to write a series of stories on famine in Africa. Honored by the United Nations and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was widely followed and referenced. Together Thurow and Kilman authored the 2010 book ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty.

The problem of hunger –the problem of the ages – quickly took Thurow’s heart and mind captive, ultimately prompting him to move beyond his reporter’s role. Departing WSJ in 2010, he became a Senior Fellow, Global Agriculture and Food Policy of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and in 2012, he authored The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.

Though his reporter days are behind him, Thurow is still telling this important story to millions, finding the task of illuminating the global hunger challenge both daunting and transformative. His new “1000 Days Project” is certain to propel understanding of the hunger challenge to an even greater level. The effort includes multimedia reporting and storytelling via blog posts and video as Thurow follows small groups of women and their children in India, Uganda, Guatemala and the United States.

The goal is to illuminate the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window, from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. Ultimately, a new book will result.

IFAMA/CCA World Forum participants are anxiously anticipating Thurow’s preview of his 1000 day project. On the morning of Wednesday, June 18, Thurow will delve deeply into the human and economic dimensions of the first 1000 days and how this critical timeframe impacts lives in rich and poor countries alike. Novus’ Tricia Beal, anticipating Thurow’s presentation comments: “It will be interesting for this community, so many of whom have devoted their lives and careers to agribusiness, to hear from one who is spending so much time with his boots on the ground.”

Thurow’s presentation will also explore his understandings the economics and the politics of malnutrition and hunger. “If we want to increase a child’s chances of living a healthy and productive life, industry and academia must invest our talents and treasure in helping to ensure better nutrition in the 1,000 day window between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday,” comments IFAMA President, Thad Simons. “Some believe that this is the most impactful investment we can make to help families, communities and countries break the cycle of poverty.”

The more than 500 participants in the Forum, jointly presented by the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), represent academia, industry and government, as well as NGOs. The Forum’s theme – People Feed the World – is intended to broaden the dialogue on the critical points these colleagues share across sectors, making Thurow a timely and relevant choice for the morning keynote.

Roger Thurow graduated from the University of Iowa. He lives in Washington D.C. with his wife Anne, and their two children, Brian and Aishling.

About the 2014 Agribusiness & Food World Forum

Jointly presented by the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), the 2014 Agribusiness & Food World Forum will focus on Africa as a region of limitless opportunity, where agribusiness has the potential to be the engine that drives dynamic, unprecedented economic growth and development. Hosted June 15-19, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa, the overarching framework for the forum is People Feed the World. Interactive discussions and presentations will engage students, academic, government and business leaders and focus on the common and binding factor of the human talent and potential to achieve global nutritional security.


IFAMA is an international management organization based in Washington, DC, that brings together current and future business, academic, and government leaders along with other industry stakeholders to improve the strategic focus, transparency, sustainability, and responsiveness of the global food and agribusiness system. IFAMA has over 700 members in more than 50 countries, and serves as an effective worldwide networking organization, bridging the agribusiness industry, researchers, educators, government, consumer groups and non-governmental organizations.


CCA is a nonprofit, membership-based organization promoting business and investment between the United States and the nations of Africa. CCA is the premier American organization devoted to U.S.-Africa business relations and includes as members more than 160 companies, which represent nearly 85 percent of total U.S. private sector investments in Africa. CCA’s members represent a diverse pool of industries from Africa’s most promising sectors, including agribusiness, capacity building, energy, finance, health, ICT, infrastructure and security.

“Class of 2014” Student Participants Share Enthusiasm, Curiosity, and Sense of Excitement

For many attending the 2014 World Forum in Cape Town, this will be the first time they will participate into a global conference that has been furthering relationships and ideals in agribusiness for more than two decades. Whether traveling from Nebraska or Nairobi, the “Class of 2014” student participants share an enthusiasm, curiosity, and sense of excitement that is palpable across the miles.

It’s no wonder! As part of World Forum, these talented students will experience firsthand the enabling power of the IFAMA/CCA community-at-large. More senior attendees of the Forum – while also present to learn and network – will simultaneously focus on their responsibility for facilitating student interactions and networking, offering mentoring and internship possibilities, and promoting food and agribusiness as an industry of choice.

Each year, the Forum brings into focus employment opportunities for food and agribusiness students as they interact with agribusiness executives, government officials and academics. Students are able to participate in a number of activities that showcase their unique skills for potential employers as they:

  • Present research before peers and academic scholars during the Symposium;
  • Participate in the only International Student Case Competition in our sector
  • Conduct Executive Interviews with fascinating leaders in the food chain for potential inclusion in future publications; and
  • Join in the IFAMA Career Expo.

Catching up with some of the members of the “Class of 2014,” they shared their hopes for their World Forum experience – including how they, as students, can make a difference in the issue of food security. Noor Ali, currently enrolled in The Netherlands’ Wageningen University commented specifically on learning – and advocating for – issues centric to food insecurity. “I’m looking forward to the dialogues focused on how synergies can be created to tackle global issues of poverty and food insecurity. In my own country of Pakistan, for example, in the presence of problems such as terrorism and economic crisis, food security remains a secondary and often neglected issue. More coverage is needed from the mainstream media to bring highlight the urgency and significance of this issue. A holistic understanding also needs to be harnessed at the policy level to address these interrelated issues.”

Willem de Jager, from the UFS Agricultural Economy in South Africa, took a slightly different approach on the food security issue, lending his South African perspective: “The farmers of the country supply the country with food, securing our nation’s food security. Our country must take care of its farmers, supporting them when costs rise too high and focusing on how we can compete against the world when it comes to agriculture. At the World Forum, I want to meet people from other countries and see their perspective and how they go about working with farmers to improve agriculture.”

Another “Class of 2014” member, Naman Arora, will be joining World Forum from the University of Guelph in Ontario. Arora expressed that food security issues can benefit from a student’s fresh perspective – and perhaps an entrepreneurial spirit: “At World Forum, I hope to learn more about current food security issues and future technologies that are going to help us curb these issues. I also want to identify the gap between these issues and the current technologies to see if there is potential for a startup community to be built around it.”

To this, Richard Avuletey, of the University of Fort Hare, in the Eastern Cape Province, added: “Student research work on the issues of global food security has done a lot to inform the policies of government and NGOs in addressing this critical issue facing the entire globe.” Avuletey sees the World Forum’s potential for allowing “young scientists from the rest of the world share their views on global food crisis and how it can be reduced, if not completely eradicated. Scientists from different parts of the world may take a different approach to the same problem. It is a powerful thing to exchange ideas.”

Student after student commented with both trepidation and anticipation on the Forum’s highly competitive “Student Case Competition.” According to Willem de Jager, “I can’t wait for the challenge of the case study. It is a very special chance to showcase your talents on many levels, with great leaders and managers of worldwide firms and institutions working with us and listening to us – and giving us a chance to learn from them. It’s hard to envision all the people we are going to meet from different countries, agricultural backgrounds, and fields in the business of food and agriculture.”

Avetisyan PictureTatevik Avetisyan, a PhD Student at Michigan State University, also shared her thoughts on the Case Competition. “The Competition will give us a great opportunity to apply our knowledge and skills to evaluate an existing managerial issue in the global food and agribusiness industry and show analytical and problem solving skills. It is both encouraging and challenging to know that there will be over 20 student teams participating in the competition from around the world.” Avetisyan believes that the global nature of the competition adds to its value. “My expectations are beyond the scope of the competition itself. I am also looking forward to meeting and interacting with students from different universities who have chosen food and agribusiness management as their career. I want to share with them my experiences and as well as learn about their perspectives. It is such a privilege to be more integrated in the effort towards feeding the world together. Now I am more encouraged and challenged to build my career vision and plans towards addressing current issues in food and agribusiness industry. The IFAMA/CCA Symposium and World Forum will significantly contribute my career path and by working together with people all around the world we can make the world a better place to live and rich out those who need it the most.”

We’re looking forward to World Forum – and can’t wait to meet these, and other, members of the IFAMA/CCA “Class of 2014!”