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The Red Palm Weevil Project

 

The red palm weevil (RPW), Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, is a snout beetle insect that has caused severe and widespread damage to coconut, date and oil plantations. Several approaches to eradicate the problems as been attempted, with little sustainable results. The weevil larvae spend their entire four-month life cycle within the trunk of the palm tree. These larvae bore deep into the palm trunk, crowns and offshoots, thereby hollowing the inside until the tree dies.

The female RPW distributes her eggs within the cavities of a tree, typically at the base of the leaves, crowns and adjacent to the offshoots. The larvae remain undetected, allowing several generations of weevil to develop within a single tree. To prevent the heavy implementation of potentially harmful pesticides, early detection, eradication treatment and prevention methods are necessary to mitigate infestations.

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Simera Innovate, as part of the Simera group, took the initiative to address this problem by evaluating existing research material to see what approaches have been attempted already. 

Thereafter we initiated a global open innovation challenge on the HEROX platform where solution providers from all over the world contribute their creativity and knowledge to solve a challenge. The response to the competition was overwhelming and secured close to 100 entries. Various creative entries were received, and the criteria for evaluation was focused on environmentally friendliness, scalability, costs effectiveness and duration of treatment.

Eventually, a solution was found that ticked all the boxes by being biologically and environmentally very friendly, causes no harm to the trees but secured a 100% kills rate of weevils, eggs and larvae in most instances and takes only one hour to treat an infected tree. The evaluation process enabled Simera to present an elegant solution that is environmentally friendly, scalable and cost-effective. This is an ongoing project.