Tecnologías para la salud: Sustainable poultry farming and traditional Mayan medicine

Tecnologías para la Salud (TPS) is a non-profit association located in the municipality of Tejar, in the department of Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Its purpose is to strengthen the preventive health of the associates and the family and community economy through the use of appropriate technologies optimizing the use of natural resources. Since 1994, TPS has organized community groups of women and has given them technical support so that they can develop and manage some development projects, recover ancestral knowledge about the use of medicinal plants and the use of appropriate technologies for good living.

Its target population is women because there is the invisibility of their economic contribution in the tasks of caring for, producing food and raising animals. The mission of the organization is to be a facilitator and guide to improving the health of the members through a healthy diet, preventive medicine, rescue and research of traditional Mayan medicine, training, and production and transfer of technologies. Its programs are designed to improve the living conditions of its associates, always maintaining a self-sustainable vision.

EntreMundos had the opportunity to visit TPS recently, where Miriam Iquique, TPS general coordinator, expressed her satisfaction and motivation to be able to work in the association while she gave us a tour of the orchard located in their facilities. Miriam told us that the Covid-19 pandemic affected TPS and the families of the town. She indicated that, a year after implementing a chicken breeding project, the pandemic arrived, and then, the conditions to continue with the project were very complicated. However, the associates faced the situation with strength and looked for alternatives to move forward. With great effort, they decided to make improvements to the yards and make the most of the spaces. This allowed them to have greater capacity and gave them the possibility of raising more chickens and having egg production.

The methodology used in TPS is based on a chain pass production, which means that each associate is delivered a certain number of hens. The associates are committed to taking care of these animals and making them reproduce; After a certain time, they must give another family the same number of animals that was given to them. For this, the association conducts training with beneficiary families so that good ecological management of birds and the yards is carried out so that in this way, an effective chain pass process is guaranteed.

Miriam also mentions that in the future, TPS has the challenge of building gardens with each family and that these gardens complement the poultry project. In fact, at the moment a race of native hens is growing up and are using the medicinal plants to maintain the birds healthy. Miriam indicates, that the establishment of ecological orchards with different vegetables and medicinal plants not only will allow improving the feeding of the families of the associates but also will generate some income by the sale of excessive, whereas the remainders of the orchards can be used for the hen houses. In this way, the project has become an agricultural and agro-ecological project. TPS hopes that this project will strengthen food production and little by little contribute to the economic reactivation of these families.

At the end of the visit, Miriam concludes by saying that TPS works continuously to develop community ties that allow us to jointly face the challenges that come in the future. In addition, it recognizes that although there are many challenges, they will continue working with effort to strengthen the capacities and conditions of their associates, seeking the sustainability of their projects, the association and the community.