Karnataka ryots throng farm fair to view new crop varieties

November 13th, 2008 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 13 (IANS) About 100,000 farmers from across Karnataka made a beeline to an agriculture fair (krishi mela) in India’s silicon hub Thursday for a glimpse of the new crop varieties, developed by the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS).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.

“Farmers should not shy away from modern technologies and methods to increase production. They should be open to fresh ideas and new seeds for higher yields,” Karnataka Agriculture Minister S.A. Ravindranth said inaugurating the four-day event at the sprawling UAS campus.

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.

The annual fair is held to showcase latest farm technologies developed by the varsity and create awareness in the farming community on modern methods of harvesting.

This year’s fair is also focusing on organic farming to check indiscriminate use of fertilisers that damage the nutrient value of the soil in the long run.

“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 told IANS.

Improved practices of subsidiary enterprises such as animal husbandry, dairy, sheep rearing, poultry and fish cultivation are on display at the fair, where about 450 stalls and pavilions are put up by the varsity, state agriculture department, farm entrepreneurs and self-help groups.

A consultancy cell has been set up for spot interaction between farmers and varsity experts on various facets of farming.

“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 650 km from Bangalore.

Bijapur district in the northern part of the state is facing water crisis due to large-scale ground water depletion.

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.

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