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Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos

Smartphone apps ring changes in Myanmar countryside

Telecoms revolution transforms farmers' access to information and markets

Children of farmers attend a weekly morning class in basic computer skills. (Photo by Denis D. Gray)

HTANTABIN, Myanmar -- When disease or insect infestation struck his rice plants in years past, farmer Kyaw Shwe could only guess at causes and remedies. Recently, however, he simply clicked on an app on his smartphone and discovered that his crop was being ravaged by Scirpophaga incertulas, the yellow stem borer. He also found the specific pesticide he needed to kill it.

Kyaw Shwe is among millions of farmers in Myanmar who have benefited from one of the world's most rapid proliferations of mobile phones, and with them, apps that provide once-isolated and impoverished rural communities with everything from weather reports to crop prices at the nearest market -- or even in another continent.

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