Heifer’s field technicians in Guatemala are going high-tech with a new app to tackle challenges on the farm.
Heifer’s Guatemala team recently developed an application called 5 Manuales Pecuarios (5 Livestock Manuals) that can be used on Android devices. The app gives users solutions written by experts for goats and sheep, bees, native poultry, pigs, and fish and snails.
“If field technicians have a problem and they aren’t sure about something, they can look in the app,” said Debora Martinez, communications coordinator for Heifer Guatemala, who led the effort to design the application. “For Heifer Guatemala, it has opened up a door, an opportunity to improve people’s lives.”
The 243-page manual is the result of a year of brainstorming and collaboration with consultants, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, and project partner FUNDEBASE. The app is private, so only people with an association to these organizations can access it.
Only Heifer Guatemala field staff are using the app right now, as a test run, but it will be available to more users soon. By the end of the year, Ministry of Agriculture extension agents will start using the manual, and so will specialists from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, a state-run university.
In the future, Martinez and the Heifer Guatemala staff would like to find ways for project participants use the manuals directly, in their native languages or adapted for people who cannot read. Currently, the app is being translated to English so it can be used in the United States and other places where English is widely used.
“I would like for us to have more apps on more topics, like Cornerstones or Passing on the Gift,” Martinez said. “Themes that farmers are interested in, and this can be a way we can communicate with them. We also want to make things easier for field technicians, because they have a lot of work on their hands. Walking, traveling, all the hours, bad roads. We can make things easier for them, too.”