This Village Knowledge Centre (VKC) in Melapatti village, Pudukottai district, is buzzing with activity. Housed in a two-room building, this VKC has become a lifeline for the residents of the village. A tailoring class is in session in one corner of the VKC while in another, a class in Microsoft excel is in full swing. Over the course of the day, there will be more classes and many more people will enter.
The Village Knowledge Centre, located in Ennai Panchayat was set up by MSSRF in partnership with village panchayt in November, 2005, following Prof M S Swaminathan’s vision of introducing technology to the unreached communities. The VKC is providing the location specific demand driven information on agriculture, animal husbandary, health and sanitation, civic services,employment and education. It is a community-owned village knowledge centre. The Village Management Committee consisting of 15 members including 8 women, meet once in every two months, to look into what farmers need at that moment, and accordingly sessions are arranged. There is a watsapp agriculture group, where residents can raise queries. There is also a Farmer’s group, consisting of 14 persons, who meet once a month. Plant clinic sessions, where plant experts give advice on plant health, are also conducted regularly.
Over the years, the services have gradually expanded and the VKC started providing courses in Microsoft Office programmes such as word, excel, and powerpoint under Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Programme (MUPP). The self-help Group members, house wives and ,school and college students are being benifited under this course. So far 2700 persons have completed the course. The tailoring course started in 2009, and currently it is in its 12th batch. The beneficiaries are all local women, and many who trained here have gone on to join big shops as resident tailors. There is also a tailor- based SHG, consisting mostly of housewives. Each batch contains approximately 10-15 women.
Apart from this, the VKC was providing sms-based agriculture services, phone-in programmes on government schemes, a helpline programme held over skype on a range of topics in farming, vetenirary services and also career guidance. The VKC in partnership with Apollo Hospital, also conducts tele-health programmes regularly, on various issues. In the past they have organised nutrition programmes. This ICT-based VKC improved the availability of timely information as knowledge to the farming community by bridging the knowledge gaps.Currently, there is a proposal to also start Tally classes in accounting, based on an overwhelming demand from the community members. It will be become a reality very soon.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.