ILRI team visits the field office at Tarahara, Nepal on 2 May 2023. (ILRI / Suresh Basnet)

Village Livestock Promoters get new dairy data app to support smallholder buffalo farmers in Nepal

To enhance milk production for smallholder buffalo farmers in Nepal, Julie Ojango, a senior scientist in the Livestock Genetics program at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), led a team in early 2023 to field test a prototype of the new Android-based Africa-Asia Dairy Genetic Gains (AADGG) dairy data application. The collaboration between two CGIAR initiatives, Digital Innovation (DI) and Sustainable Animal Productivity (SAPLING), resulted in the successful live testing of the new app.

The AADGG program, under SAPLING, aims to boost the productivity and profitability of smallholder dairy systems by accelerating the genetic improvement of dairy animals. To achieve this, accurate and valid animal performance data are crucial. These data help identify optimal genetics for improved productivity and resilience to global climate challenges across Africa and Asia.

The AADGG dairy data app, co-designed by AADGG and the DI initiative, is part of a suite of mobile-based apps that facilitate data capture and validation. The app is tailored to work efficiently even in areas with poor connectivity. Livestock extension personnel, like Village Livestock Promoters (VLPs) in Nepal, can collect animal- and farm-related information using prompts provided by the app.

Landing and registration pages for the AADGG-Dairy data app
Landing and registration pages for the AADGG-Dairy data app

The app enables extension service providers to register farmers' animals, monitor the animals' performance and document management practices. It incorporates quality checks to ensure data accuracy and adherence to biological norms. Collected data are transmitted to the main AADGG platform where they are processed to develop customized animal management advice for farmers.

A key step in preparing the AADGG dairy data app for the launch was the live field test in Sunsari, Nepal. The training involved the AADGG/SAPLING team, the DI initiative's remote app developers and VLPs and livestock technicians as end users. 

As VLPs practised using the app in the field, the AADGG/SAPLING team and DI app developers responded to questions and feedback in real time. VLPs found the app to be user-friendly compared to previously used Open Data Kit (ODK)-based tools. The constant interactions between the AADGG/SAPLING team, DI app developers and VLPs during live testing proved invaluable in understanding the app’s potential and challenges in the field for efficient refining.

Julie Ojango noted the app’s potential. 'The new mobile app is a great entry point for engaging the next generation in providing livestock extension services. When talking to farmers, young VLPs can intuitively understand how to use the app to collect data and give advice on buffalo management,' she said.

Field visit to collect data through ADGG Android App at Tarahara, Nepal on May 2, 2023 (ILRI / Suresh Basnet) 
Field visit to collect data through ADGG Android App at Tarahara, Nepal on May 2, 2023. (ILRI / Suresh Basnet)

Following successful live testing, an optimised version of the AADGG dairy data app is scheduled to be launched in August 2023. Once the data flow is verified, the app will be translated into local Nepali languages, further enhancing its accessibility and impact in supporting smallholder buffalo farmers.