Gamaya – Food security through knowledge and innovation

The one participant we doubted yet hoped the most that he would participate at the Food Security Conference, was Yosef Akhtman, CEO of Gamaya. Not only did he participate in the roundtable on “The role of innovation in sustainable food production” but he also opened the conference with a remarkable presentation on “The global challenge of food security.” Knowing that Gamaya is going to set up a company in Brazil, we wanted to know a little bit more from Yosef.

Yosef, could you please introduce yourself and the story of Gamaya?

I am coming from a mostly academic background having spent more than 10 years doing and managing applied research projects across multiple domains including mobile robotics, remote sensing, and environmental monitoring. I was always fascinated by the flow of information and in particular the interface between the modern technology and the environment.

Gamaya is a result of multiple years of research that my team and I have conducted at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The main focus of our work was on the development of sophisticated imaging technology, called hyperspectral imaging, that would allow detailed large scale analysis of plant physiology. Consequently, the mission of Gamaya is to empower farmers with in-depth knowledge of their land and crops, thus facilitating more efficient and environmentally sustainable growing methodology.

You are about to expand in the Brazilian market, what are the challenges/opportunities?

Evidently, Brazil presents a tremendous opportunity for our technology. Brazil has an agriculture-centric economy of massive scale and exceptionally high level of technological sophistication. The Brazilian society has a rapidly growing awareness of its unique ecological and natural resources that need to be preserved and protected. As a result, Brazilian farmers show unparalleled interest in new technology and innovation.

Likewise, the challenges of penetrating the Brazilian market for any foreign business are very significant, and perhaps in the agricultural sector in particular. Distances, language and tax regulations are all big issues, but most importantly we need to convince local experts and professionals that our Swiss knowledge is of substance and significant relevance to their specific issues and needs.

What is the role of Gamaya in relation to food security?

Security, in general, is a combination of two factors. One is the knowledge of risks. In any domain, you can not be secure unless you know what the risks are.

The second factor is a redundancy that would allow for a margin of uncertainty. Errors and uncertainties are ubiquitous and have to be accounted for in a system that wants to be secure. In this sense, security always stems from planning and situational awareness.

Gamaya technology aims at providing industrial growers with the maximum access to information about the condition of their crops. We enable the flow of relevant information from the field in order to minimize uncertainties, support planning, as well as support timely decision making. In this sense, our technology directly lends itself to maximizing the security of the local food production, which is one of the corner stones of global food security.

Why do you think it’s important to have a network such as swissnex Brazil?

In order to succeed in Brazil, Gamaya will have to build a highly professional and dependable organization from scratch. We will need to find strategic partners and friends across multiple domains and specialization. Clearly, this is a major challenge that we are prepared to address, but the help of organizations such as Swissnex Brazil can make a great difference. Their extensive network, the thorough knowledge of the country, as well as the wonderful enthusiasm, are perfectly suited to help young businesses like ours.

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