U of G case study team finds success at international competition

A team of three University of Guelph (U of G) undergraduate students placed first in the International Food and Agri-Business Management Association (IFAMA) student case competition this June in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The team consisted of food and agricultural business students Michelle Ragany and Hayden Fox, and biology and psychology student Sarah Preston.

The competition required teams to prepare two rounds of case study presentations for a panel of judges. This year’s case study had teams take on the role of Plant Breeders Without Borders and analyze the possibility of creating a partnership with Bayer Crop Science to deliver a program that would teach Indonesian farmers how to grow the Bambara Ground Nut.

Student teams had to think critically and quickly with only four hours to review the case and prepare a proposal.

For the preliminary round, the University of Guelph team proposed a partnership with Bayer Crop Science over a 10-year timeline. They pitched starting with a gradual rollout of the educational program to targeted farmers in the first five years, and then penetrate the market for the remaining five years.  

“Competing against countries like China, Australia and the United States was an intimidating task,” says Fox, “but creating innovation in agriculture is what the University of Guelph does best.” 

Their proposal impressed the judges and secured them a spot in the final round.

In the finals, they were asked to analyze three out of ten questions and determine how they would overcome certain obstacles facing the partnership between Plant Breeders Without Borders and Bayer Crop Science. They were also required to provide recommendations to ensure the program and partnership would be successful.

 “Presenting our ideas to the international agriculture community and representatives from Bayer was an honour and we could not have asked for a better result,” reflects Fox.

The three students worked well together as a team to build an action plan, design a ten year timeline, discuss partner processor options and most importantly, display how this partnership could create mutual benefits in terms of financial growth, social responsibility and empowering smallholder farmers.

 “Coming into this year as the leader, I had no idea what to expect,” shares Ragany, who was team president. “My teammates and I come from very different backgrounds and I believe that was what truly sealed the deal for us in competition. We all had different ideas and were able to develop a well-rounded presentation that came full circle.”

The students felt the competition provided them with a great hands-on professional opportunity to apply concepts learned in their U of G courses to real-world situations.

“Bayer Crop Science has just recently partnered with Plant Breeders Without Borders in real life, so everything presented in the competition had the potential to be more than just a solution to a made up case,” shares Fox.

The team is looking forward to continuing their successes next year and is currently recruiting students to join the team says Ragany.

“I am looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish as a team in the coming years,” she adds.

Students interested in applying to be a part of the 2019 U of G team, can contact guelphifamacomp@gmail.com.