Innovation Champions: Petiole APP presents a fresh approach to Kenya’s long-standing False Codling Moth challenge

Posted on: 20/09/2022

One of the biggest challenges that Kenyan Chilli Farmers are facing is False Codling Moth (FCM), also known as Thaumatotibia leucotreta. It is an economically damaging pest impacting a variety of alternative host plants across its natural range in sub-Saharan Africa. This has a huge knock-on effect on the country’s economy as it is highly dependent on the agricultural sector.

In an effort to remedy the FCM challenge faced by thousands of Kenyan farmers, the Innovation Exchange (iX) challenge competition, Global Alliance Africa delivered by Innovate UK KTN, supported Flamingo Horticulture International, which grows chillies within several regions in Kenya, to identify innovative approaches in pest control for the detection and screening of FCM. The IX approach promotes cross-sectoral innovation transfer, matching real industry challenges from large businesses to companies or academic institutions that can provide novel, market-ready solutions to challenges such as FCM.

With their solution for early detection of FCM through the use of technology, co-founders of Petiole APP and Pro, Maryna Kuzmenko and Andrii Seleznov, were announced as the winner of the challenge. The team empowers agronomists and plant scientists to get into precision agriculture and obtain accurate plant traits measurements with a smartphone, no matter their skill set or experience. They streamline the plant phenotyping process and give farmers a set of tools for their crop monitoring. Petiole will be working with Flamingo to pilot and refine the solution at the Kapiti Greens Farm.

Watch our video below to see how these businesses connected with each other through KTN:

Kuzmenko says:

The main task of the application is to help with the identification and early detection of FCM, to minimise the number of FCM in the UK and prevent it from coming into the country. About 36 African countries including Kenya, have a presence of FCM, and our involvement with Flamingo Horticulture provided us with a platform to create value for Kenyan farmers, such as the Kapiti Chilli Farm.

Sekeznov adds:

The experience introduced by the project allowed us to spend time with Kapiti Farm, which is a small farm located in Kitengela, and introduce the use of technology into their farms in order to mitigate FCM in their farms, as well as how they can use the data to run their day-to-day operations, as research also tells us that companies that inject big data and analytics into their operations can outperform their peers by 5% in productivity and 6% in profitability.

By winning the challenge, the Petiole team will now receive up to £25,000 in milestone-based seed funding, along with training and mentorship, to help develop their solution.

Commenting on the significance of this Innovation Exchange Challenge, Global Alliance Africa’s Country Lead for Kenya, Sheilah Birgen, concludes:

We have seen the impact of collaborations when trying to build small businesses. Through the Innovation Exchange initiative, we support innovation transfer by matching industry or societal challenges to innovative companies from across a diverse range of sectors. The opportunity to partner with Flamingo Horticulture International, Kapiti Greens and Petiole is a step in the right direction towards creating sustainable economies that uplift the lives of ordinary people.

Click here to learn more about Global Alliance Africa’s Innovation Exchange Challenges.

About Global Alliance Africa

The Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Four project-level interventions were piloted in 2021 in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa with one of the interventions focused on Open Innovation.

For more information about the project, please visit

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