Farmers make a beeline for mela

Farmers make a beeline for mela

The turnout, however, is way below last year’s figure when more than one lakh people had visited the fair on the first day. The number of visitors does not include those who arrive individually without registration.

Consequently, university authorities say the actual number of visitors may be more. In all, the organisers expect that 10 lakh people will visit the fair.

At least 100 farmers’ groups, including a few from neighbouring states, visited the fair which is being held on a national scale for the first time. It houses more than 700 stalls, up from 540 in 2010. The varsity conducts the fair every year to showcase the latest technologies, crop patterns and new varieties aimed at making agriculture profitable.

Besides, it provides the farmers a platform to interact with agricultural scientists. The organisers say this year’s fair focuses mainly on small agricultural equipment, post-harvest processes and organic farming. Given the large-scale migration of labourers to cities, farmers struggle to find agricultural workers. Hence, the costs of agricultural labour have increased sharply, forcing the farmers to rely on small equipment, KPR Prasanna, Professor of Seed Science and Technology and Dean of Student Welfare at UAS, says.

Accordingly, the fair has a large number of kiosks that exhibit power agricultural equipment. From power sprayers to tillers, weeders to decorticators, deseeders to winnowers, kerosene pumpsets to irrigation systems, brush cutters to chainsaws, and earth augers to large farm tractors, the fair has them all.

“In farming, machines are used mainly in drilling, seeding, weeding, harvesting, and processing. If done manually, there will be high risks of spoilage,” Prof Prasanna told Deccan Herald.

B Somashekhar, a farmer from G Thimmapura in Kadur taluk of Chikmagalur district, agreed and said he attended the fair to know about new agricultural equipments like chaff cutter. “If you employ labourers to cut chaff or remove weeds, you’ll have to spend a lot. A machine will not only save your time and money, but also give you quality output,” Somashekhar - who grows tomato, bitter gourd, capsicum, etc in his field - said.

Traders claim they are offering a discount. “We have slashed our prices by at least 10 per cent. The discount is higher if multiple products are bought,” D J Patel, a trader from Ahmedabad, said.

The kiosks selling farm equipment were the major attraction. So were those of seeds, vermicompost, chemicals and fertilisers, manure, etc. Stalls exhibiting various vending machines, flour mills, magic stoves and gardening cans, too attracted many visitors.

The university has set up museums to demonstrate various varieties of crops in different farming conditions. Also, crop-wise counters have been put up to guide the farmers on all major crops. In line with the government’s policy to encourage organic farming, the fair houses several stalls where experts provide comprehensive information on the subject. An exhibition of organic products has also been set up.

A number of nationalised banks, including the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), have set shops to create awareness among farmers about farm loans.

Earlier in the morning, D B Chandre Gowda, Bangalore North MP, inaugurated the fair. Minister for Agriculture Umesh Katti, who was supposed to inaugurate the fair, did not turn up.

Forty innovative farmers were honoured on the occasion. In all, 236 farmers would be honoured during the whole event, Vice-Chancellor K Narayana Gowda said.

Among the awardees, two were bestowed with Corp Prashasti awards. Besides, eight farmers from various districts and 30 from the taluks were honoured. The fair is open from 9 am to 6 pm.