This post was written by Michelle B. Sultán (Senior Field Manager, Guatemala)
Since August 2014, Dimagi has been working alongside Rainforest Alliance, implementing its Farmer Training App initiative in Guatemala. Rainforest Alliance (RA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.” The organization works in over 100 countries with 100 different products produced by close to 1 million smallholder farmers around the world.
The idea for the Farmer Training App started back in July 2014 when RA realized how farmers, though the most
essential part of the supply chain, tend to be the most isolated from it. In Guatemala, coffee producers will sell their raw beans to exporters with little knowledge to what will happen to their commodity after it is exported. In fact, farmers often have no information on where their coffee is being exported to, who processes it, and who ends up consuming it.
Producers around the world also tend to be disconnected from each other, making it difficult to learn about best practices that are implemented by their peers in surrounding communities. Through CommCare, the Farmer Training App is able to share videos and relevant information on agricultural best practices that can benefit farmers in a particular region. A few of the themes presented through the application include: worm composting, appropriate weed management and best practices in managing coffee leaf rust.
FARMER TRAINING APP IMPLEMENTATION
On November 2014, Dimagi launched v2 of the CommCare-Farmer Training application complete with a farmer registration module, statistics on coffee pricing and exportation, videos from RA certified coffee consumers and educational videos on farming best practices featuring local coffee producers. Six community leaders, three project managers, and one national project coordinator attended the Dimagi-led training session held in the RA offices located in Guatemala City. The training focused on teaching community leaders how to use a tablet, how to download and use CommCare, and how to review the CommCare-Farmer Training application content. After a successful third day of training, the community leaders said they felt comfortable with the technology and were eager to share the application with other producers in their respective communities.
The third version of the application (v3) was rolled out in May 2015. Two Dimagi staff members, Christina Jeffrey and Nick Pellegrino, traveled to Guatemala for the weeklong workshop. Alongside local Field Manager, Michelle Sultán, the team traveled to Camojallito, Huehuetenango and San Pedro La Laguna, Sololá to train 14 additional community leaders.
Today, the Farmer Training App initiative (renamed “Proyecto Tecnología”) has been successfully rolled out throughout 3 coffee-producing regions of Guatemala. 21 mobile users have submitted over 400 forms so far. We believe these numbers will grow in the next months as the Farmer Training App project continues to scale.
The next phase of the CommCare-Farmer Training App project will feature individual farmer profiles, targeted educational learning modules relevant to each stage of the growing season, and an SMS component focused on farmer engagement. Stay tuned for news on how this project progresses and expands across the world!
For more information on Rainforest Alliance, please visit (http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/)