The Digital Development Awards recognize USAID projects and activities that apply digital technologies and data-driven approaches to meet development objectives. This year, USAID recognizes the Moldova Competitiveness Project, implemented by Chemonics, for its use of technology to safeguard the country’s vineyards.


From the Peruvian Amazon to the vineyards of Moldova, digital technology has the power to stimulate economic growth, protect public health, promote stability, and lift millions out of poverty. The development sector has increasingly embraced this potential.

The Digital Development Awards, presented by USAID, recognize agency projects and activities that model innovative application of digital technologies to achieve development goals. Among this year’s Digi winners, the Chemonics-implemented Moldova Competitiveness Project is leading the way.

The Moldova Competitiveness Project, funded by USAID and the government of Sweden, works across industries to improve the quality of Moldovan products, promote trade, and facilitate collaboration between its public and private sectors. Through its FlaveDor activity, the project supports the country’s thriving wine industry, which provides income for more than 200,000 people. That industry has come under threat by the incurable vine disease Flavesence dorée (F. doree). Nearby European wine-growing countries report the disease’s presence in about half of the area under grape production. In Moldova, the disease has spread rapidly to 20 percent of the country’s vineyards in just five years.

To combat F. doree, the Moldova Competitiveness Project and National Office for Vine and Wine looked beyond the traditional, manual method of plant inspection to the innovative use of an emerging technology: drones. The activity recently conducted a pilot using drones equipped with multi-spectral cameras and cloud-based image processing software to digitize the inspection process. The use of this technology cuts labor costs for winegrowers, improves diagnostic accuracy, and decreases pesticide use by enabling rapid spot-treatment and quarantine of infected plants. It also reduces harvest loss by up to 80 percent.

The National Office for Vine and Wine, a public-private partnership that works closely with regional winegrowers’ associations, manages the technology and uses the data to inform development of management plans to counter F. doree’s spread.

“We’re honored to receive a 2018 Digital Development Award and to share the innovative work that USAID supports through the Moldova Competitiveness Project. At Chemonics, we know that smart use of technology can enhance private sector competitiveness. We’re encouraged about the results of the drone pilot and look forward to a broader rollout that will lead to healthier grapes, higher-quality wine, and greater market opportunities for Moldovan winegrowers,” said Terri Kristalsky, Chemonics’ senior vice president for Europe and Eurasia.

The 2018 Digital Development Award winners will be recognized at an award ceremony hosted at USAID’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. in early 2019. Learn more about the Moldova Competitiveness Project here.