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Challenge ID: VSCH2019042000002

How can we harness digital tools and approaches to urgently address corn harvest being damaged by the population of Fall ArmyWorm (FAW)?

digital technology

About Challenge Sponsor

Bayer is a Life Science company with a more than 150-year history and core competencies in the areas of healthcare and agriculture. In India, the Crop Science Division has businesses in seeds and crop protection. Crop Protection and Seeds markets a broad portfolio of high-value seeds along with innovative chemical and biological pest management solutions, at the same time providing extensive customer service for modern and sustainable agriculture.


The challenge is seeking all types of digital tools and approaches that offer timely and context-specific information that enables small and large holder farmers to track, spot and treat the incidence of Spodoptera frugiperda (Fall ArmyWorm) in corn fields.

Challenge Description

Fall ArmyWorm (FAW), is an invasive pest native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas which attacks more than 80 different plant species. In India, Fall ArmyWorm (FAW) outbreaks first reported on Corn in Karnataka in 2018. Later it spread to the rest of southern India & parts of Maharashtra in Kharif-2018 (July –October).
Because of trade and the moth's strong flying ability to fly up to 1,600 Kilometer (nearly 1000 Miles) in 30 hours, meaning it has the potential to quickly not only spread within India but easily migrate to surrounding farms and also to other neighbouring countries in Asia.
It has a hugely damaging effect on the yield and quality of produce. 3rd to 6th stage caterpillars goes into the stalks of plants, damaging the crops from inside and making the pests harder to kill. The yield per acre can reduce by up to 40% devastating food supplies across India.
Given the spread and rate of the outbreak. Information on how to respond and prevent the pest needs to quickly be transmitted to farmers.
In order to control the spread of FAW, Farmers will need great support in improved access to immediate, accurate and actionable information on how to mitigate, identify and combat the Fall ArmyWorm through Digital technologies and approaches where farmers can leverage useful advice and make an informed decision.

This Challenge requires the submission of written documentation, the output from the proposed system, and executable for validation upon request. All types of digital technologies are encouraged and eligible for an opportunity. Bayer will perform the experimental and validation of proposed solutions in order to determine the award.

Challenge Parameters

  1. We are looking for a solution that :
    • Enable small and large holder farmers and those who support them to accurately identify the incidence of Fall ArmyWorm in their crops.
    • Produce timely, context-appropriate, and empowering insights for small and large holder farmers to treat the incidence of Fall ArmyWorm.
    • Reduce productivity losses caused by Fall ArmyWorm among those using the tool or approach.
    • Ensure the appropriate and responsible use of pest management assessments, tools, and interventions.
      • Usage of right spray technology coupled with the digital image sensing on drones to treat the FAW in the middle of the corn crop (i.e. called Whorl), where pest resides.
      • Provides an innovative solution to mitigate the challenges of manual spraying due to the height of the corn crop and soil application challenges. 

Height of the crop is more than 6ft which makes it difficult to spray from the top. Use of drone becomes inevitable.

Image courtesy: CAB International

The red circle in the above images shows the Whorl, where the FAW pest resides and does maximum damage. This is usually inaccessible to spray manually after 45-60 days of crop due to the high density of leaves.

Image courtesy: DAS photos. Adapted by Andre Aguirre Ramos

  2. Eligibility
    • Teams of individuals (2 to 5 members) and Organisations from India are welcome to participate. Participants must be serious about advancing their solution beyond the challenge and plan to scale their Product/Program.
    • A working prototype or approach which can be deployed to pilot run.
    • Be capable of being deployed at a large scale within six to twelve months.
    • We are only able to evaluate proposals in English.
    • After the Challenge deadline, Bayer will complete the review process and make a decision with regard to the Winning Solution(s). All Problem Solvers submitted a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.
    • Late Submission will not be considered.

Note: Bayer will have IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) over the ideas, solutions, models, approaches or prototypes developed during the challenge.

Challenge Timeline

  1. Phase 1. Innovation Submission
    • Calling on Problem Solvers/Organisations with prototype solutions which can be deployed in corn farms for effectively tackle Fall ArmyWorm (FAW) - Spodoptera frugiperda.
  2. Phase 2. Review
    • The Aasalabs Team will review all published proposals alongside Bayer for two weeks. Proposals on the platform will lock during this review period, though we encourage innovators to leave and respond to comments, feedback or insights that may fuel.
    • What to Expect Next
      • Evaluate and Discuss (Telephonic or Skype) with the shortlisted teams to have a better understanding of their proposed solution. The basis that, We will be announcing our shortlist of highest potential proposals, Up to 10 Innovators/organisations selected to move forward into our Pitch Day!
  3. Phase 3. Pitch Day
    • During the Pitch Day, up to 10 shortlisted concepts are invited to demonstrations of the solution’s ability to satisfy the goals of the Challenge.
    • All teams participating in Pitch Day will have access to expert feedback, support from peer to peer knowledge building. Pitch day will consist of 3 components: Beneficiary Feedback, Expert Feedback, and Improve.
    • Two shortlisted ideas will move to the Prototype phase.
    • Pitch Day location  Bayer, Mumbai or /and   Sandbox Startups, Hubballi.
  4. Phase 4. Prototype Phase
    • Top 2 ideas will be asked to build the Prototype and apply feedback to their proposals.
  5. Phase 5. Full field trial
    • The full Field trial will begin with a Beneficiary Feedback period, where shortlisted participants will be asked to test the Prototype in Corn Farms and apply feedback to their proposals. During the Full Field Trail, contributors have just under two weeks to incorporate learnings and strengthen their idea in advance of the Final submission.
  6. Phase 6. Final submission
    • In our Final Feedback phase, we’ll take a look at the progress during refinement and work with our sponsors and expert evaluators to review. Proof on Disease management, control on the pest, increased yield and farmer testimony.
  7. Phase 7. Award / Winner Announcement
    • 1 out of 2 top ideas from the challenge will be selected to develop a formal partnership with Bayer.

The Opportunity

  1. Top 2 winners
    • Will be eligible to receive a cost of development of the solution, based on the evaluation by Bayer experts.
    • Will get supervision and handholding support by domain experts from Bayer.
    • Will get the opportunity to do real-time testing of prototypes with Bayer.
    • Recognition as the winner(s) of the FAW Challenge.
  2. One of the 2 winners
    • Will get an opportunity to partner with Bayer to scale up the solution to other geographies in India.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Your solution files which are secure and confidential will be reviewed by Aasalabs and then forwarded to Bayer who sponsor the challenge.
  • Bayer will internally evaluate and select entries to award the Opportunity. Top Two Idea(s) will have a fortnightly review on the progress through Skype or Call. The teams will be allotted an acre of demo corn growing field to conduct trials and test their prototypes.
  • At the final review or result workshop, the teams will be evaluated on the ease of use of technology, efficacy in controlling the pest and the incremental yield due to this technological intervention, Cost factor, Adherence to Norms, regulation and privacy.

Get in touch

For further Queries, updates on challenge Contact us at info@vyavasahaaya.com with Subject Line “FAW CHALLENGE”