Methods for Detection and Screening of False Codling Moth within produce in Sub Saharan Africa

This Global Alliance Innovation Exchange challenge competition, delivered by KTN Global Alliance Africa, is supporting Flamingo Horticulture International to identify innovative approaches in pest control for the detection and screening of False Codling Moth, Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick). The False Codling Moth (FCM), is an economically damaging pest impacting a variety of alternative host plants across its natural range in sub-Saharan Africa. For this Global Alliance Innovation Exchange challenge competition, Flamingo Horticulture International seeks innovative solutions to detect and screen FCM.


Challenge opens


Challenge closes



Opportunity to present solution at a pitch day attended by representatives from Flamingo Horticulture International. GBP 25,000 seed funding is available to the successful finalist.


Flamingo Horticulture International

Flamingo Horticulture International is a horticultural business with a worldwide footprint that covers farming, production, sales and marketing of fresh produce and flowers. Flamingo Horticulture International has farms situated in Kenya (near Mt Kenya and Lake Naivasha) growing many products such, beans, broccoli, spring onions, herbs, roses, and chillies.

False Codling Moth

The False Codling Moth (Thaumatotibia leucotreta) is a native pest of significant value affecting food and horticultural products in Africa. The moth, and subsequent eggs and larvae, are present on more than 70 host plants, including chilli, flowers, mangos, bananas and avocado. The False Codling Moth (FCM) is well adapted for warm climates and is endemic in Africa. Current control includes the use of cultural, physical, biological and chemical methods.

To control the pest and prevent it from spreading to other geographies strict regulations prevent the export of infested produce out of East Africa.  Therefore, the presence of False Codling Moth in any crop will result in both lowering the value of produce due to direct damage and yield unusable harvests due to the inability to market and export infested goods. As a consequence, the economic impacts of FCM for Flamingo Horticulture International are significant, risking the loss of crops. FCM is a challenge facing all companies working within the wider horticultural sector in Kenya. FCM places the continued export of high-value crops from Kenya to Europe at risk; a sector which is worth $2.272b to the Kenyan economy, and costs over $40m annually to control on roses, chillies, aubergines, and avocados, while the monetary value of potential interceptions and rejections by port health is about $55m.

Infestation by the moth is a year-round challenge but peaks in its population, and therefore infestations are seen in November through to March.  Current control methods include the use of chemical pesticides and inspection by pickers and packers of products.

Flamingo Horticulture International seeks novel solutions specific to the control or elimination of FCM in the production of chilli plants or in the chillies themselves. 

FCM & Production of Chillies

Flamingo Horticulture International grows chillies within the Nairobi region in Kenya. The chillies are grown in soil in enclosed plastic greenhouses or Shade Net Houses and watered using drip irrigation systems. The greenhouses do not have supplementary heating and temperatures range from 26-30°C. Local weather conditions are a minimum temperature of 10-12°C and maximum temperature of 24-26°C, and rainfall of 700-1000mm pa.

The chillies are hand-harvested and brought to a packing plant where they are sorted and graded manually. The chillies are packaged in a processing plant in plastic packaging before being packed into cardboard boxes prior to being air freighted.

The lifecycle of the moth is such that adult flying moths deposit eggs on the surface of the host fruit. Once hatched, the larvae burrow into the host fruit. Once the larvae are inside the pulp they begin to feed. Upon maturity, the larvae exit the fruit and drop to the ground on silken threads. The larvae then pupate in the soil before the adult moth emerges.

The Challenge

This challenge relates to the detection and identification of FCM within chilli plants, which is currently achieved by visual inspection. Flamingo Horticulture International would like to see approaches that could enhance detection and screening of FCM within produce. Solutions could focus on detection and identification of FCM during production, at harvest, during grading of chillies, or immediately prior to export during packaging.

Facts about False Codling Moth

Adult moth:
• Small moth, ±7-10 mm long
• Moth is nocturnal and so is active at dusk and during the night
• Moth breeds throughout the year on host plants
• 5 – 6 generations/year
• Males lives 14 to 57 days
• Females survive 16 to 70 days.
• Dispersal normally is limited to several hundred meters (1500M).

Eggs: Translucent and 1mm in diameter, 100-400 eggs are produced per adult per life cycle

Larvae: L1-5 stages

Target Audiences
We anticipate solutions may come from, but are not limited to, the following sectors:
• Robotics
• Automation Industries
• Manufacturing
• Electronics, Sensors & Photonics
• Detection/Inspection Industries
• Digital
• Creative

Rewards & Benefits

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the challenger.

The package may also include:
• Support and facilities from the challenge holder to test and develop the systems within their own laboratory space with the solution.
• Support from InnovateUK KTN (e.g. pitch training and mentoring).
• Support in the development of a prototype or pilot.
• Technical support.
• Invitation to attend or present at InnovateUK KTN events.
• A potential business collaboration.
• Investor introductions (if investment is required).
• Support if any innovation or similar competitions are relevant.

The selected solution provider(s) will:
• Work with Flamingo Horticulture International who will facilitate and support the product testing on the trial site (Ngong Veg farm, outside Nairobi)
• Receive GBP 25,000 seed funding to work on the specific challenge. Funding will be received in instalments, subject to specific Milestones (eg project plan, mid-project report and final report.)

Solution Requirements

Functional & Testing Requirements
The solution is expected to screen for the eggs and larvae stages 1-5 and deal with occasional power outages.

Technical Characteristics
Flamingo Horticulture International already employs several technologies (Cultural control, Physical, Biological, Chemical control) in an attempt to detect and eliminate FCM. Any proposed solution must be able to demonstrate a significant advantage over existing technologies.

Operating Conditions
The solution will be applied in East Africa and needs to be operational within a temperature range of 10-30 °C.

Deployment Timescale

• Launch of the Competition: 8th December 2021
• Deadline for applications: 28th January 2022
• Selection and notification of finalists: 14th of Feb 2022
• Date of Pitch Day: w/c 7th March 2022
• Solutions are expected to be usable within the next 1-2 years

Cost Requirement & Market Opportunity

FCM is a challenge facing all companies working within the wider horticultural sector in Kenya. FCM risks the continued export of high value crops from Kenya to Europe, a sector which is worth $2.272b to the Kenyan economy.

Eligibility & Assessment Criteria

Entrants to this competition must be:
• Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs, individual entrepreneurs, or academics.
• Collaborative solutions (Business to Business B2B and B2R&D) are valid applications. If collaborative solutions are being tabled a single lead organisation needs to register the application. This organisation can be either an industrial or academic partner.
• Priority is given to solution providers based in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa. However, innovative solutions from other countries will be considered.

Applications will be assessed on:
• Relevance to the topic
• Innovative nature of the subject
• Coherence of the proposed business model
• Feasibility/ economic viability
• Development potential
• Maturity of project/solution
• Ability to launch project quickly/ ease of implementation
• Suitability for the Kenyan Market

IP & Potential Commercial Route

• The existing Intellectual Property (IP) associated with a potential solution will remain with the solution provider(s). Where any new IP generation is envisaged, it will be subject to the mutual IP agreement of the solution provider(s) and Flamingo Horticulture International.

• Any commercial deployment of transferred or newly developed solutions through licensing, joint venture, partnership or direct investment will be subject to the commercial agreement between the solution the provider(s) and Flamingo Horticulture International.

• If necessary, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) may be signed to uphold confidentiality in the engagement between the solution provider(s) and Flamingo Horticulture International (this would take place after the selection of the company, and it is suggested that details of IP are not disclosed.

Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN will not take any share of IP ownership or enter commercial ventures through the IX programme.