The goal of this project is to support women from weaker sections of society in setting up micro-enterprises and providing them with the necessary skills in order to do so. The two identified areas are food processing and aquarium systems.
During the first year, intensive surveys, group discussions and initiating training programmes were the focus of activities. In the past year, the focus has been on conducting a large number of training programs imparting the necessary skills and also conducting trial runs of production in the food processing sector. Exposure visits were conducted to various local institutions to assess information available, resource persons were identified and the women were provided with an understanding of the different processes involved. Throughout the year a total of 7 programmes were conducted for a total of 168 number women who were selected from women Self Help Groups facilitated by local NGOs.
The different food processing workshops were conducted with the help of resources persons from the C-DOT, Trichy, Center for Ecology and Rural Development (CERD), Pondicherry and Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Krishi Vigyan Kendra (PKKVK), Pondicherry. The workshops covered topics of raw material selection, preparation of products, packaging, quality and hygiene control and pricing. The women trainees were involved in each stage of activities and actively participated in the hands on training. Methods were demonstrated once and then trainees were divided into groups to carry out the tasks on their own. This ensured that they were able to gain practical experience, clarify methodologies and gain confidence in producing these items on their own.
At the Bakery unit at the Women Technology Park of CERD, Pondicherry, trainees learnt how to make a variety of buns, biscuits, bread and cakes. The trainer was a master baker in the local area who is also willing to continue providing technical support to those women who are interested in starting their own enterprises. All products produced were marketed in the local areas by the members.
Several trial rounds of food product production were taken up so that women were able to gauge their potential and also become familiar with the requirements of the trade. At present the PKKVK has agreed to provide the use of its facilities for women who are interested in starting larger scale production. Quality control and brand name will be provided by the institution.
One fisheries training program each was facilitated by the Department of Inland Fisheries and the Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Krishi Vigyan Kendra (PKKVK) Pondicherry. The following topics were covered in each of the programs along with short documentaries on rearing, practical demonstrations and building aquariums, and preparation of local fish feed.
General information on Ornamental fish keeping and their importance.
Identification of aquatic plants and culture.
Various income opportunity and marketing strategies for aquarium fishes, plants and other ornamental accessories.
Morphology identification of Aquarium fishes and sex identification.
Ornamental fish rearing and breeding.
Identification of ornamental fish diseases and their control.
Setting up of model aquarium, Description and uses of aquarium pumps, motors, filters, water air filter system, etc., commonly used in aquariums.
Field visit to Kolathur, Chennai
A total of 18 women expressed interest in further following up with the ornamental fish rearing activity and are working in groups of 3-4 members each. Each group has been provided with three cement tanks each and a small number of mollies and guppies for initial rearing. An assessment of the activity was conducted as this is a new and unfamiliar field for the women.
The setting of an enterprise by the women requires production skills and also understanding of how to run and manage the micro-enterprises. Two training programmes were conducted for 59 women.