Melapatti villagers praise their Village Knowledge Centre
Author : Dr Rajkumar & Dr Rengalakshmi R
Renovated with a budget of Rs. five lakhs by the village Panchayat, the VKC provides value-added information, knowledge, and advisories on using various digital tools, and other services
The Village Knowledge Centre (VKC) in Melapatti, Pudukkottai District, is facilitated by MSSRF, and was renovated in January 2023, with a budget of Rs. five lakhs by the village Panchayat, serving as a good example of community ownership. The VKC, established in 2005, has been successfully functioning under the guidance of the VKC Management Committee. Approximately 1500 small and marginal farmers are associated with the VKC, including five Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs) and a Farmers Producers Group supported by the Department of Agriculture. Community participation and periodic capacity building are key reasons for its success. The VKC also has a training centre where 1500 women have received various kinds of skill development.
How does the VKC equip its users?
Users are provided with appropriate and value-added information, knowledge, and advisories based on their needs using digital tools such as voice SMS, phone-in programme, helpline services, audio-video conferencing, video-based learning, and plant clinics. In addition to digital services, the VKC also offers Common Service Centre (CSC) facilities. During 2021-22, 850 users availed of various CSC facilities including crop insurance, PM-KISAN cards, health insurance, PAN card, corrections in ration cards, printing of land records, and government entitlements.
The VKC has a functional and vibrant management committee consisting of 15 members, including eight women. Members of the committee have participated in several capacity-building activities, helping them realise their roles and responsibilities. Lakshmi is a Knowledge Worker with the VKC and has been instrumental in making the VKC successful for Melapatti village. She obtained necessary knowledge and skills to manage the VKC efficiently, and is especially skilled at conducting ICT-based programmes and networking with partners. The men and women of Melapatti village express that the VKC is the identity of their village, and part and parcel of their village’s infrastructure and assets.
Members of the VKC have a good rapport with various stakeholders, including persons engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry, health, revenue, rural development, the Nehru Yuva Kendra, and banks. These departments support the VKC to leverage their programmes. 2,200 people, including Self-Help Group (SHG) members, students, and homemakers have completed basic computer literacy programmes under the Microsoft Unlimited Potential programme (MUPP) through the VKC. In addition, 2,300 women have completed tailoring and embroidery courses, while 180 women have completed computer courses. About 300 women also have tailoring shops and are earning Rs. 7,000-10,000 per month.
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.