For Allasandro da Gama, founder and CEO of Imfuyo Technologies, says farming is more than just a science; it is about constantly learning from experience and being innovative. “If you look at the agricultural industry, in certain aspects, a lot of it has been more of an art than a science. There are many processes that rely on the farmers’ experience and judgement, as well as very manual and tedious activities,” he shares.
Imfuyo Technologies is a smart farming solution that monitors and locates livestock; collecting and analysing critical information about its behaviour. The agritech startup seeks to offer farmers better surveillance over their operations in general. The solution consists of a device that is fitted to a collar and mounted around an animal’s neck. The system is run on a network infrastructure that provides low range, low power, and cost effective communication. The data collected by the device is uploaded onto a cloud management system where it is analysed and made available for farmers via Imfuyo Technologies’ Smart Farming Platform. Da Gama says the device operates using batteries and runs for a long time, varying from eight months to three years depending mainly on how often a farmer will require location information.
On 19 November 2020, the Economist reported that the total loss of livestock in South Africa had rapidly increased to as much as twice the annual black market value of poached rhino horn. According to Willie Clark, the national chairperson of the National Stock Theft Prevention Forum: “Livestock theft costs the country R1.4 billion annually.” If farmers continued to suffer livestock theft, this would heighten the risk of the industry losing production and business. “Prior to starting the business, I had been getting very interesting exposure [to] agricultural investments and venture capital. Upon engaging with livestock farmers," says da Gama.
"I realised how ripe the industry was for disruption and that there were many aspects that could be improved with the use of technology.”
He describes an average day in his life as “structured chaos” as he manoeuvres between traveling to speak to farmers to gain insights; engaging in meetings with various stakeholders; and running day-to-day operations for Imfuyo Technologies. Da Gama says that he takes each day as an opportunity to revisit the drawing board to improve his work.
“I am married to the problem and not the solution, so I prefer to my perspective based on new information,” he adds.
Fortunately for Imfuyo Technologies, the formal livestock industry continued to operate during the various national coronavirus lockdowns in 2020. The pandemic raised concerns regarding food security and through that, it has challenged farmers to reflect on methods to improve operational efficiency and to strengthen business sustainability. Da Gama consciously took the risk of embarking on this journey. He says that it is fulfilling to see something that he has built create value in people’s lives.
“There are infinitely many problems around us and currently in farming, I have found a problem significant enough to dedicate my life to solving.” - Allasandro da Gama