Ever since he was a child, Yossi Goldshmidt has been fascinated by farming. Growing up in a small village in Israel, he watched his father work the fields and cultivate citrus groves. Yossi studied agronomy at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and has spent the past 40 years harnessing the power of science to help farmers around the world maximise their yields, avoid losses and work efficiently.
For the past two decades, Yossi has worked for ADAMA, a leading crop protection company whose history dates back to just before the country’s founding more than 70 years ago.
Starting off as the Global Head of Fungicides, his time at the company has been characterised by robust geographic expansion. After six years managing fungicides, he took over operations for the Asia–Pacific region.
Then, in 2009, he established ADAMA’s presence in India, alongside his colleagues there, for the first time.
Today, as part of his role as Vice President of ADAMA India, Middle East & Africa, he heads the India operation comprised of about 700 permanent employees and 2,000 seasonal and contract workers, as well as a state-of-the-art formulation plant and the company’s first global research and development centre outside of Israel.
However, the significant growth in the company’s India business came with lots of challenges and obstacles including penetrating the billion-dollar crop protection market, which is made up of over 100 million farmers, covering approximately 150 million hectares of farmland.
"The size and immensity of the market made it challenging to position and differentiate ourselves as a player," Yossi recalls. India already had many products manufactured locally and many more imported from China.
"Everybody was reluctant and hesitant to start developing a new business in this crowded market," Yossi says. "Now, just 10 years later, ADAMA India has leading commercial infrastructure with thousands of retailers and is among the top three crop protection companies in the country."
Yossi knew that the key to breaking into the market would be for ADAMA to build its own distribution network. This strategy became the foundation of the company’s continued growth and success in India. Such an integrated set-up allows the company to be fast to market, producing tailor-made solutions straight to the Indian farmer – and all made in India.
"We have to live up to our brand promise; listening to customers and farmers to understand the challenges they face and deliver solutions that meet their needs," Yossi says.
By establishing close relationships with customers, Yossi and his team "created a tsunami in the market", holding mega-meetings with thousands of retailers and farmers across the country to inform them of the ‘startup nation’s’ innovative technologies and advanced farming practices that have the ability to significantly increase the agriculture output.
Yossi’s strategy is in the true spirit of ADAMA, where people are empowered to seize opportunities, act on their passions and build real relationships with partners, distributors and customers.
It’s something the company owes to its entrepreneurial spirit, as well as the dedication and professionalism of the team. "The connection between our people in Israel and India and our joint vision is what made ADAMA India strive in this market," Yossi says.
We have to live up to our brand promise; listening to customers and farmers to understand the challenges they face and deliver solutions that meet their needs.
Today, the company sells directly to 13,000 retailers across India through its nationwide network of 50 warehouses and offices, which guarantee delivery of new orders within 48 hours. As well as marketing crop protection products, these offices also employ agronomists who advise customers on how to use ADAMA products properly and efficiently.
This advice not only maximises utility for farmers but also helps to reduce harm to the environment. New products are also created with sustainability in mind.
"We have invested in technologies that improve the delivery of active ingredients to their targets, enabling us to protect crops from insects, diseases and weeds, as well as combat resistance, and enhance farm yields and food supply more efficiently," Yossi explains.
ADAMA holds the broadest portfolio in India, providing unique and comprehensive solutions to the farmers, addressing their various needs.
"Through our diversity of active ingredients, together with our ability to develop tailor-made, unique combinations, formulations and delivery technologies, ADAMA’s leading portfolio of effective, safe and sustainable crop protection solutions address farmer pain points in India and around the world," Yossi says.
Reflecting on the challenges he faced in penetrating the Indian market and the success he and his team have achieved in spite of it, Yossi recites a Hebrew adage attributed to the 18th century Jewish mystic Nachman of Breslov: "The whole wide world is a very narrow bridge, but the main thing is to be strong and have no fear at all.
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