MSSRF strengthens capacities for set-up of village knowledge centres in Sri Lanka
Author : Sangeetha Rajeesh & Kavitha VP
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security unit of Caritas Sri Lanka (CSL) approached MSSRF to enhance their knowledge around establishing Village Knowledge Centres (VKCs) based on the MSSRF model and experience in India. Caritas Sri Lanka (CSL) – SEDEC is a Catholic relief, development, and social service organisation focused on community-based programmes to support the poor, vulnerable and the marginalised across Sri Lanka.
The MSSRF team included Dr Rengalakshmi, Director – Ecotechnology, Dr R Rajkumar, Principal Scientist, Ms D S Girija, Development Coordinator, and G Sudhakar, Agriculture Scientist. They provided technical guidance and strengthened the capacity of the CSL’s field staff on the concepts of VKC and the operationalisation mechanisms. Several capacity-building workshops were organised on a virtual mode in May 2021, and later in February 2022.
Around 30 CSL field coordinators participated in the training that focused on the setting up VKCs, developing content and training modules, operational framework, management structures, sustainability of VKCs, etc. CSL established the first VKC in Sri Lanka, a few more VKCs followed. This initiative is intended to provide better access to information resources for Sri Lanka’s agrarian community.
The main purpose of the VKC is to provide scientific and locale-specific information and knowledge related to climate-smart agriculture, animal husbandry, health and nutrition, employment, education and government services to the farmers in Sri Lanka.
MSSRF developed the first Village Knowledge Centre model in Puducherry in 1998 and it was popularly known then as ‘Information Villages’ linking it with the Biovillages project, which was supported by International Development Research Centre.
The idea emanated from the Interdisciplinary dialogue on the theme “Information Technology, Reaching the Unreached” held in 1992 at MSSRF, Chennai. The core outcome of the discussion led to the evolution of the idea that Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) had great potential to support rural development and sustainable agriculture in developing countries.
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.