Krishi Mela opens many eyes

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By Team Mangalorean, Bangalore

BANGALORE, November 13, 2008: The 42nd National Krishi Mela organised by the University of Agricultural Sciences at Hebbal near here opened a gamut of activities for the farming sector and to its stake holders in a big way. The Krishi Mela organized by the UAS on a plot of over 100 acres included a trade fair, an exclusive Organic farming enclosure, a poultry and livestock show, inland and reservoir fisheries show and above all the new varieties of paddy, pulses, sugarcane, coffee, cardamom, spices and many other things that common man could not have been able to see under one roof. From the commonly found Lemon Grass to the exotic man-size bunches of Robusta Bananas each weighing not less than 120 kgs were there for the visitors to see.

The Krishi Mela one of the favourite haunts of the farmers from all parts of the state at Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Hebbal was a sight of hyper activity. This is the 42nd Krishi Mela that is being held by the UAS since 1966 but it got the national recognition only since 2005 when it was organized on a pan India scale.

The GKVK will be for the next four days a bee hive of activities. With over 500 stalls to visit and over 3 lakh people expected during the Mela the UAS is not leaving anything to the chance. The well organized and laid out exhibition grounds had New generation tractors, tillers, de-weeders, bio-pest control tools, Organic farming techniques, rain water harvesting, improved agricultural implements, mechanised tools, crop improvement products, new generation sprayers, harvesters, solar pumps and many more things that interested the farmers.

The Krishi Mela had an exclusive section for the organic farming. The organically grown potatoes, Tissue Culture banana New species of paddy, cashew, arecanut, giant sugarcanes that have been grown using improved techniques and a number of genetically engineered pest free plantation crops were on the show.

Among the noted crop varieties demonstrated to the inquisitive farmers are a high-yielding, drought-tolerant and disease-resistant ragi (cereal), a hybrid variety of sunflower with high-yielding potential and paddy suitable for aerobic cultivation.

Among the noted crop varieties demonstrated to the inquisitive farmers are a high-yielding, drought-tolerant and disease-resistant ragi (cereal), a hybrid variety of sunflower with high-yielding potential and paddy suitable for aerobic cultivation.

The livestock section boasted of a piggery which had animals that weighed 250 kgs and the poultry farm had various types of fouls including the common chicken, Punjabi Broiler chicken Ducks, Emus, Quails, Turkey and many other types of edible birds.

In his inaugural address state minister of agriculture S.A.Ravindranath said farmers should take hints from the market while planning for cultivating a particular crop. He said in the past farmers have grown excess produce of a particular type of crop that has created a glut in the market. Taking the instance of sugarcane, chillies and tomatoes in the recent past Mr. Ravindranath said about 40,000 tonnes of Sugarcane had not been crushed in the year 2007-08 while Tomato and Chilli growers resorted to waste thousands of tons of produce by spilling them on the roads and also not harvesting them. Mr. Ravindranath also said that the farming community should process their produce like paddy, pulses and legumes and store them till the market gave them the right price. He said it had come to notice that the farmer sells off the standing crop in fields for a fraction of the price he would get had the produce been processed.

The minister advised the varsity scientists to visit villages and educate farmers to adopt modern technology for optimal utilisation of soil, water, seeds and harvesting methods to increase farm output.

"We have been helping farmers acquaint with the latest equipment and new seeds to enhance productivity, conserve soil and maximise returns," varsity Assistant Professor J. Balakrishan said.

MLA of the area Krishna Byre Gowda speaking on the occasion stated that subsidies and loan waivers will not help the farmers. What they want was the information, knowledge and support of the academia in improving their yield, quality of crop and market linkage. He said both state and central government have waived the loans of the farmers to the extent of over 72,000 crores during 2007-08 and 2008-09.

"I have come to know about new technologies and crop varieties to improve my harvest. I am seeking a solution to water scarcity in my village from experts," said Bhaagavva, a farmer from Bijapur district. About 100,000 farmers from across Karnataka made a beeline to the fair.

About 65 percent of the 60 million people in Karnataka are into farming across the second largest semi-arid state, next only to Rajasthan.

Some of the main problems faced by farming community of the state are water scarcity, power shortage, poor storage system for farm products and absence of marketing strategy for quick disposal of produce.