PlantArcBio has completed successful experiments of a biological insecticide against the red palm weevil
Nov. 6, 2018
The companies intend to continue together to develop and commercialize a biological insecticide against the palm weevil, with the expectation of the first product in the market in about three years. The insecticide will be based on the compounds that were successfully tested. It will be environmentally friendly because it is based on biological elements that specifically damage the red palm weevil insects, degrades quickly after use, and leave no traces in the fruit.
"Following the excellent results obtained in the framework of the collaboration so far, we are very pleased to move on to the next phase and try to solve a significant threat to the palm industry in Israel and worldwide," said PlantArcBio Founder and CEO, Dr. Dror Shalitin. "The insecticide that is developed, will help palm growers to deal much better with this notorious insect."
The red palm weevil is the most harmful insect in the world for the palm industry. The insect attacks palm trees, which grow on about 14 million hectares around the world, as well as coconut trees growing about 120 million hectares. In addition, there is great damage to palm trees growing for ornamental purposes, such as the Canary Island Date Palm. The potential damage of the insect without treatment is hundreds of millions of dollars, and the treatment itself is expensive, harms the environment and may harm the farmers as well as the treated trees.
The insect is found in most areas where palm trees are grown worldwide and is common in more than 60 countries. In some countries, the insect threatens the very existence of the industry as well as the supply of basic food in some North African and Middle Eastern countries. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), that leads international efforts to address hunger worldwide, estimates that some 50 million palm trees are vulnerable to the damage of the red palm weevil.
Current insecticides are based mainly on harmful chemicals, and used by irrigation, spray or injection. Despite the spread of the insect and the collateral damage, most of the advancement in dealing with it, has been mainly through the means of identification of infected trees (by using dogs, sensors, etc.). Looking at advancement in treatment, no specific and/or friendly materials have been developed against the insect, hence the cooperation between the partners in the project.
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