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The Digital Opportunity - USAID

Like railways and roads before it, the internet is unleashing waves of innovation and transforming the way in which businesses, consumers, and governments operate and interact with each other. The rapid growth in mobile phone ownership and mobile broadband usage is serving only to accelerate this digital revolution.

This new found access to digital information and services is empowering individuals, opening new channels for delivering more effective and scalable services from governments and the private sector, and enabling a more adaptive, data-driven approach to decision making.

The opportunity is clear, but it is not a forgone conclusion that digital technologies will benefit those who arguably stand to gain the most.

Four billion people in developing countries still don’t have access to the internet, including a staggering 93 percent of households in the least developed countries. And women are, on average, 14 percent less likely to own mobile phones than their male counterparts.

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This collection focuses on apps for mobile devices, mobile devices that are self-contained and links to organizations developing tools.  This is intended as a guide for discussion at all levels of development - from those who have few resources available to those who have a higher level of resources but may not be aware of their potential.

We welcome additional references, so please send us any additional information that might help others.

Connect to the Digital Toolbox Interest Group forum

Please note that the links listed below may lead to additional resources which have not yet been added to this collection.    Search for more listings and filtering


  1. Key Resource Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) is a Michigan State University based program. SAWBO transforms extension information on relevant topics such as agriculture, disease and women's empowerment, into 2D, 2.5D and 3D animations, which are then voice overlaid into a diversity of languages...
  2. Key Resource Access Agricultureis an international NGO which showcases agricultural training videos in local languages. Here you can see examples of videos, download them or order a DVD copy. The audio tracks can also be downloaded by radio stations. This is a platform for agricultural R&D staff, service...
  3. Azuri has used mobile technology to turn a development challenge into a business challenge through its Azuri solar home systems, which allow users to pay for solar power on a pay-as-you-gobasis, just like they dofor their phones and kerosene. This provides clean, safe renewable power to families...
  4. USAID Feed the Future - Digitizing the agricultural value chain Why Where How
  5. Smallholder households, estimated at about 500 million globally in low- and middle-income countries, are the largest segment by livelihood of those living under $2 a day. Traditionally excluded from formal financial services, digital financial services represent an opportunity to deepen financial...
  6. How low-cost sensors and more accurate data can transform farming in Myanmar In a perfect storm of technology, access, and opportunity, IDEO.org went to workin Myanmar to explore new agricultural applications for low-cost sensors. After a flurry of research, a myriad of prototypes, and trips to...
  7. This online resource is intended to introduce USAID mission staff, implementing partners and other interested parties toThe Guide to the Use of Digital Financial Services in Agriculture.This resource will help you diagnose and assess your own agriculture value chains to determine where and how...
  8. TheU.S. Global Development Lab (Lab) and theBureau for Food Securityare collaborating in an effort called “Digital Development for Feed the Future” (D2FTF) to demonstrate how leveraging digital tools holistically and according to best practices can improve the cost effectiveness and development...
  9. The Leaf Doctor performs quantitative assessments for plant diseases on plant organs such as leaves. Users collect or submit photographs of diseased plant organs and calculate the percentage of diseased tissue. Through a user’s touching of the device screen, the algorithm employs user-specified...
  10. A comprehensive collection of crop nutrient deficiency photos. A range of nutrient deficiency examples are provided for 14 prominent crops. Text and diagrammatic descriptions are also provided. alfalfa, banana, barley, canola, citrus, cotton, maize, oil palm, potato, rice, sorghum, soybean,...
  11. We’ve come to a time in civilization when raw materials and resources are becoming ever more scarce. When we take into consideration the pollution, increased emissions, soil degradation and water depletion, we know thesustainabilitychallenges that loom in the horizon are real. But into this same...
  12. Welcome to AIMS AIMS is a portal with information about and access to standards, technology and good practices. It is also a forum for connecting information management workers worldwide and for discussing open access and open data. AIMS stands for collaboration and interoperability.
  13. e-Agriculture SURVEY on the PRINCIPLES for DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT
  14. The advent of drones this small, cheap, and easy to use is due largely to remarkable advances in technology: tiny MEMS sensors (accelerometers, gyros, magnetometers, and often pressure sensors), small GPS modules, incredibly powerful processors, and a range of digital radios. All those components...
  15. Field Book is one of the apps developed for theOne Handheld Per Breederinitiative. Field Book is a simple app that can be used by researchers to easily take notes on field research plots. Other digital note-taking tools are often complex spreadsheet applications that don't allow for fast and...
  16. This link takes one to Amazon to view a list of GPS-based area measurement devices. We have no particular recommendation. This is a starting point for the concept of area measurement. Note that there are some that have more capability for international use - units of measure, language, etc.
  17. Half of the billion people affected by undernourishment worldwide earn their primary living from smallholder agriculture. The productivity of these farmers remains very low. A major issue in this context is the lack of access to technical and market information, and to financial services....
  18. Mobile Assay’s customizable product and services offer a comprehensive solution for all your diagnostic needs. MIRRORis a versatile quantitative RDT reader application for android and iOs smartphones. Whether your concern is food safety, animal safety, or point-of-care diagnostics for health,...
  19. Agricultural production in the Caribbean is constrained by limited access to up-to-date, local information. However, recent ICT developments in the region have created e-solutions to these challenges, improving crop production and reducing pests and diseases as well as post-harvest losses.
  20. Achieving scalable impact by design Proximity Designs is one of the largest non-profits operating in Myanmar today. Founded in 2004, our products and services have improved the lifestyles, and boosted the incomes of over 250,000 rural people across the country.To reach scale, and maximise impact,...
  21. CTA promotes the adoption and dissemination of sound practices in the domains of participatory spatial information management and communication otherwise known as PGIS. This site provides an updated account of completed and ongoing initiatives.
  22. Like railways and roads before it, the internet is unleashing waves of innovation and transforming the way in which businesses, consumers, and governments operate and interact with each other.The rapid growth in mobile phone ownership and mobile broadband usage is serving only to accelerate this...
  23. At IDEO.org, our goal is to improve lives through design. Which means that we are designing for impact, building partnerships with organizations that know how to bring innovative solutions to life, and continuing to evolve the products, services, and experiences we design even after they're out...
  24. 2016-11-01 The presentation will cover available geospatial datasets and open-source analysis tools including weather and soil data, and basic applications of QGIS and R for spatial data. Examples will be drawn from the presenter's involvement in the ICRAF impact evaluation "Assessing the Downstream...
  25. Landpotential.org is a global partnership committed to developing and supporting the adoption of freely available technology and tools for sustainable land use management, monitoring, and connecting people across the globe. The Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) delivers tools and...
  26. The potential natural vegetation (PNV) map of eastern and southern Africa covers the countries Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia. The first version of the map was developed by variouspartners in East Africa and Europein 2010 and has now reachedversion 2. The...
  27. USAID has launched the Land Technology Solutions (LTS) project to expand its successful Mobile Applications to Secure Tenure (MAST) initiative. MAST is a suite of innovative technology tools and inclusive methods that uses mobile devices and a participatory approach to efficiently, transparently,...
  28. Geospatial analytics combines GIS technology with scientific methods and processes to transform data into visual, actionable information. E3’s LTRM office works with USAID missions and offices, host country governments, communities and other partners to use geospatial analytics in the design,...
  29. 2017-01-20 Mobile phones are already surprisingly common in many parts of the developing world, and they, and the network of cables and transmitter masts that are needed to carry all that data, are spreading fast. The service in many places is still patchy and intermittent: people have to climb the nearest...
  30. ICTworks is the premier community for international development professionals committed to utilizing new and emerging technologies to magnify the intent of communities to accelerate their social and economic development. ICTworks focuses on the use of information and communication technologies...
  31. 1981-01-20 Information and communication technologies (ICTs) offer unprecedented opportunities to transform agriculture in Africa. ICT innovations are opening up exciting opportunities for young entrepreneurs to engage at various stages of the agricultural value chain, from developing solutions that make...
  32. 2019-01-20 This handbook gives an overview of a broad range of technologies and can be useful for professionals engaged in agriculture extension, organizations working with smallholder farmers, implementors, donors and other public sector partners. Those interested in the use ICTs for development may also...
  33. Climate change is having a major impact on food security. More than 815 million people are chronically hungry and 64 percent of the chronically hungry are in Asia. The world needs to increase food production by almost 50 percent by 2050 to feed a population of nine billion, yet resources such as...
  34. Android / iOS The "MyWorldWeather" is the mobile application of the "World Weather Information Service", supporting the major iPhone and Android platforms. Equipped with location-based technology to detect a user's locality, the application can automatically display the latest official weather...
  35. Unpredictable farming seasons and weather patterns are making life even more difficult for food producers. Two ways of obviating these developments is to use resources such as water and agricultural inputs more efficiently and increase the crop yields of key actors in global food production:...
  36. Android This easy-to-use App shows you data on the distribution of indigenous tree species in different natural vegetation types, combined with information on the products and services that the tree species can provide. It arms you – local community members, government agencies, private sector...
  37. There are many advantages to using video to share ideas with an audience. To start with, it combines both visual and audio dimensions, bringing situations and faraway contexts alive in a way that written texts or photos on their own cannot. Video is attractive for training purposes because it...
  38. There are 500 million smallholder farmers in the world, most of whom live on less than $1 a day. Small-scale farmers are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and they face many challenges including lack of access to traditional markets, agricultural inputs and finance. Every day...
  39. Mobile phonesare a valuable communication tool with many applications in development, with benefits forpublic healthandlivelihoodsas well as in personalcommunication. Especially text message services are an important service used in developing countries
  40. Android Program options Together we can create a better context for local livestock farmers to thrive and prosper. Here's how: PROGRAM FOR POULTRY AND PIG FARMERS Include FeedCalculator in your current programs and learn farmers how to make their own quality feed from local resources. We designed...
  41. Android PlantVillage Nuru is a publically supported, and publically developed application that uses a digital assistant to help farmers diagnose crop disease in the field, without an internet connection. Developed at Penn State University the app uses Google’s Tensorflow machine learning tool and...
  42. ThePractical Answersapp challenges poverty. Latest technical solutions are shared in real-time to equip users with the right knowledge, at the right time to tackle pressing global challenges like climate change, flooding, sanitation and ensuring sustainable agriculture. This app is perfect for...
  43. PlantVillage is a research and development unit of Penn State University that empowers smallholder farmers and seeks to lift them out of poverty using cheap, affordable technology and democratizing the access to knowledge that can help them grow more food. The rich countries of the world were...
  44. Android Very smart tool to measure area, distance, perimeter by draw your figure on map as your imagination. Fast area/distance/perimeter making : - Smart Marker Mode for very accurate pin placement - Very smart to edit measurements - Undo button for all actions - GPS tracking/Auto measure for...
  45. Android FarmerZone is the Dept. of Biotechnology’s (Govt. of India) vision of a cloud service that will offer AI-based advisories to help smallholder farmers increase their total farm productivity. The app provides advisories related to crop health, desired growing conditions, preferred seed...
  46. We are focused on providing the best user experience we can, helping you to discover answers to your inquiries quickly, effectively and precisely. We have a range of content on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, including, posters, leaflets, video factsheets, etc. For ease of use, we have categorised...
  47. Android The Agroforestree Database is a species reference and selection guide for agroforestry trees. Agroforestry trees are those that are deliberately grown or kept in integrated land-use systems and are often managed for more than one output. This database provides information on the...
  48. Android Regreening Africa App is a mobile-based android application that helps users to collect information on how farmers are managing and protecting trees on their farms. This application was developed under the Regreening Africa project, a project that targets to reverse land degradation in...
  49. Android The LandPKS app helps users make more sustainable land management decisions by allowing them to collect geo-located data about their soils and vegetation. It then provides users with information about their site. It also provides free cloud storage and sharing, which means that you can...
  50. Android Welcome to the Fertilizer Optimizer app! This app will assist you in using fertilizer more efficiently to optimize your fertilizer investments. The app will ask you for information on crops grown, area planted, expected crop sale prices, fertilizers costs and the budget you have to invest...
  51. Android iOS Wherever you are, browse your library of clear, practical and safe advice for tackling crop problems. Download factsheets for your country* and use them anytime, on or offline. Plantwise is a global programme, led by CABI, to increase food security and improve rural livelihoods by...
  52. We are focused on providing the best user experience we can, helping you to discover answers to your inquiries quickly, effectively and precisely. We have a range of content on thePlantwise Knowledge Bank, including, posters, leaflets, video factsheets, etc. For ease of use, we have categorised...
  53. GPS Field Area Measure useful as map measurement tool for outdoor activities, sports, range finder applications, bike tour planning, or run tour planning, explore golf area, land survey, golf distance meter, field pasture area measure, garden and farm work and planning, area records,...
  54. Canopeo is a rapid and accurate green canopy cover measurement tool. Use this app to quantify the percent canopy cover of live green vegetation for any agricultural crop, turf, or grassland based on downward-facing photos taken with your mobile device.
  55. BioLeaf - Foliar Analysis identifies automatically the injured leaf regions caused by insect herbivory and then estimates the defoliation percentage related to the total area by using images either captured from the phone or loaded from the photo gallery.
  56. Mobile & Web Application for free and easy data collection.
  57. Open Data Kit (ODK) is a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. ODK provides an out-of-the-box solution for users to: Builda data collection form or survey (XLSFormis recommended for larger forms); Collectthe data on...
  58. 2017-01-23 A new platform launched by CTA -Apps4AgDatabase - provides a comprehensive, up-to-date information for investors and development practitioners who want to support the integration of ICTs in food value chains. The responsive database helps users to compare different services provided by hundreds...
  59. Hollywood A-list directors are creating movies with iPhones. Tribal people in Papua New Guinea are vlogging on YouTube using their phones. Never in the history of mankind have we had the abilities to create and share audiovisual media that we do now with the mobile phone we carry in our pocket....
  60. What does Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd. do? We create software applications that address specific social problems such as low agriculture output or lack of pre-natal care. Our solutions are developed within the company and can be coupled with a compact lightweight computing device. Where is...
  61. The GSMA brings together and supports the mobile industry, agricultural sector stakeholders, innovators and investors in AgriTech space to launch, improve and scale impactful and commercially viable digital solutions for smallholder farmers in the developing world. Globally, 500 million...
  62. Teamscope is a data collection application for field research. Development workers and agricultural researchers can build powerful mobile forms, capture data offline and analyze it with a few clicks. Teamscope is free to use for up to 5 users and is designed for sensitive data collection....
  63. Over 100 pages of drawings drawn and donated by the British Association of Illustrators. Covers food, water, health, shelter and work. For use by and of help to fieldworkers active in communication and education work, and to encourage local artists.
  64. Abstract,Archives of Computational Methods in Engineering, 2018 Species knowledge is essential for protecting biodiversity. The identification of plants by conventional keys is complex, time consuming, and due to the use of specific botanical terms frustrating for non-experts. This creates a hard...
  65. There is enormous potential for digitalisation to help achieve food and nutrition security and resilience to climate change, as well as promote engagement of youth and women in agribusiness in Africa. But this potential will not be fulfilled by chance. At such a defining moment for this...