Beat the beetle.

Beat the beetle.

The Red Palm Weevil spends its entire life cycle inside palm trees and and eventually kills it. Help us locate and eradicate the beetle.

Challenge Overview


Problem Statement

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 approached to eradicate the problems as been attempted, with little sustainable results. The weevil larvae spends its 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 to remains undetected, allowing several generations of weevil to develop within a single tree. As young palm trees are traded between countries, the pest spreads between plantations worldwide. Thus, to prevent the heavy implementation of potentially harmful pesticides, early detection, eradication treatment and prevention methods are necessary to mitigate infestations.



Current Solutions

Solutions to date include: 1. Acoustic Detection 2. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) Detection 3. Multi-Spectral Imagery Analysis and Thermal Imagery Detection 4. Continuous Remote Monitoring using IoT solution 5. Transcriptome Analysis using diagnostic molecular markers 6. Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) 7. Physical inspection (not scale-able) 8. Service-Free and Attract-and-Kill Pheromone Trapping including electromagnetic radiation dry traps, and methods incorporating non-repelling insecticides within the food bait. 9. Sanitation and Removal of Severely Infested Palms 10. Pesticides: Spraying (Preventative) and Injections (Curative) 11. Genome Manipulation The prevention of infestation is extremely dependent on the detection stage. Uprooting and disposal of infected trees could inhibit the exposure and spread of the pest to surrounding crops. Eradicating the pest completely from existing plantations is most desired.



Pain Point

Many of the current technologies and methods are (to some extent) successful in combatting the spread of the infestation, whereas others prove useful in monitoring the pest. However, although it was evident that there were distinct advantages within the application of each of the proposed concepts, the need exist for a scalable solution that can be implemented by local and commercial farmers in a cost-effective manner.



Challenge Guidelines

The purpose of this challenge is to solicit possible solutions that have not been considered.  Perhaps someone has treated similar situations with success before, and such approach can be scaled up, or enhanced with technology to make it more efficient.  Essentially, we need a system to identify infected trees, locate the beetles or larvae inside the tree, and apply an eradication protocol without killing the tree in the process.  A second best alternative would be early detection of infected trees so that those trees  can be removed and destroyed.  Even though we would like complete ready-to-use solutions, we would even welcome ideas that are not proven, but has some theoretic merit in why it could work.

Submission requirements

  • What we expect: The selection criteria favors more mature solutions like proof-of-concept, even ideas would qualify.  Feel free to use any media that would communicate your idea, i.e. a written document, photos of prototypes, videos etc.
  • Entrant/Team information: Please enter your full name and email address.  If submitting as a team, please list the full name and email address of each team member. Provide the role/expertise for each team member
  • Submissions can be made in any form that does justice to your ideas. This includes written documents, presentations, videos etc.
  • Solutions should be practical, scalable and affordable for the average farmer.
  • Supporting files: Please provide any supporting documentation.  Examples of supporting documentation include schematics, tables, figures, diagrams, or video.
  • Technical maturity: Please discuss the technical maturity of your proposed solution. We would prefer solutions that has a thorough theoretical base, or has been proven in conceptual stage, or of which a prototype is available.  However, we don't want to exclude entries that simply identifies a potential solution which no-one else has thought about to date, and which may work very well.


  • The prize is $5000 cash.
  • We will also recognize the solution provider as the original solution provider
  • Should the solution result in a commercial solution on scale, we will provide the solution provider with a selection of world-class dates as symbolic gesture to recognize his/her contribution towards the preservation of the date farm industry.


  • Anyone may enter
  • Any and all intellectual property that results from the proposed solution will belong to the company that launched this challenge.  The solution provider agrees to transfer any and all rights to the intellectual property of the proposed solution to the challenge owner.
  • Solution providers may submit more than one entry, and each entry will be treated as separate entry.
  • Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.
  • To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.
  • Solution providers that submit a solution that is already patent protected with a priority date prior to 1 May 2020, must agree to provide the Challenge Owner a fair, non-exclusive, irrevocable, world-wide license in all Intellectual Property demonstrated by the winning/awarded solution. See the Challenge-Specific Agreement for complete details.
  • All Intellectual Property of Non-patented solutions will become the property of the Challenge Owner as described in the Challenge Specific Agreement.

Registration and Submissions

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the website, on or before the deadline as indicated. 

Selection of Winners

Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded according to the Judging Criteria.

Judging Panel

The determination of the winners will be made based on evaluation by relevant specialists.

Additional Information

  • By participating in the challenge, solution provider agrees to submit only their original idea, or where such solution provider has seen a solution in practice that may possibly offer a solution.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own, or public knowledge, or in agreement with the idea provider, will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Any entry is considered void wherever it is restricted or prohibited by law.
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Judging Criteria

Judging CriteriaDescriptionWeight
Proposal QualityQuality of proposal: clear, concise writing;   thoughtful and complete responses; realistic.10%
Applicability• Practicality: Potential for large scale practical implementation
• Treatment cost per tree: Cost effectiveness of the solution
• Scalability: Being able to implement the solution on multiple farms simultaneously considering plantations may have up to 100,000 trees per block
• Resources: Availability of resources to implement the solution
Market ReadinessThe less Research and Development that is required to commercialize the solution, the higher the score allocated.  A market ready solution is preferred.20%
SafetyThe safer the solution is to humans, trees and the environment, the higher the score15%
IPPotential of the solution to be novel, new and commercially applicable, and may result in a valid patent.15%
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