GODAN’s Executive Director, André Laperrière, and Scientific Lead Suchith Anand attended the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) in Abu Dhabi from 1-2 April 2019, convening with policy makers and industry experts to discuss the benefits of open data and AI for addressing global food security. 

As a guest speaker at the GFIA conference, Mr Laperrière addressed some of the most influential figures in the industry, talking about the potential of Open Data and AI innovations to address the global challenges of food security and nutrition.

The GFIA MENA 2019 Conference, held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, was attended by more than 7000 farmers, agribusiness professionals, scientists and government officials from over 120 countries. Participants discussed innovative solutions to bridge the digital divide in agriculture and the latest technologies in the sustainable agriculture sector.

Prisided over by H.H Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister of UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority; the sixth edition of GFIA focused specifically on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can support progress in increasing food production and ensuring food security in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Andre Laperriere addressing attendees at GFIA GODAN lunch meeting

André Laperrière addressing participants at the GFIA GODAN lunch meeting

Throughout their participation in the Conference and concurrent trade fair, Mr Laperrière and Mr Anand addressed and discussed the trends, challenges and opportunities presented by today’s technology in agriculture and the innovations needed to take the industry forward both on a domestic and international scale, for addressing global food security. 

Mr Laperrière was also invited to take part in the judging panel for the GFIA Innovation Award “Best Innovation in Crop Production” category, where he delivered a keynote speech on Open Data in the private sector, addressing the issue of the digital divide between smallholder and large-scale commercial farming. Mr Laperrière also chaired the panel discussion on “The use of Artificial intelligence for healthier plants, animals and aquaculture”. 

Speaking about the potential of open data to revolutionise agriculture, Andre Laperrière, said:

“In 1986, approximately 1% of the world’s data production was in a digital format. Twenty years later, in 2007, it was 94%. Today, almost the totality of data generation is digital. We currently have the intelligence, but making it into a readable and accessible format will revolutionize the world as we know it, not just in agriculture or food production. 

The fact, however, is that agriculture is currently in the bottom of the smart tech revolution, but thanks to the support and patronage by visionary leaders like Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister, countries such as the UAE are heavily investing in AI across sectors and setting exemplary models for the rest of the world to emulate.

With the UAE already a global hub of science, smart tech and AI, combining it with open data policies will truly unleash the forces of revolutionary innovation, and truly change the landscape of agtech across all types of food production in the region. The scope is truly exponential,”

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