Dharawad (The Hindu): The four-day Krishi Mela organised by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, which attracts lakhs of visitors, mainly farmers, from Karnataka as well as neighbouring States, kicked off here on Saturday with the inauguration of the Seed Mela, where farmers were distributed seeds symbolically.
Basavaraj Horatti, pro tem Chairman of the Legislative Council, inaugurated the Seed Mela, held to make available certified seeds to farmers for sowing in the rabi season.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Horatti said viability of agriculture depends on soil fertility and quality of seeds. However, he said, farmers are being cheated by a few companies selling adulterated and poor quality seeds. Farmers are also often influenced by the misleading advertisements of these companies, he added.
Mr. Horatti said the agri-scientists and officials of the Department of Agriculture had a great role in protecting the interests of farmers by creating awareness and providing them certified seeds.
He referred to the example of farmers in Haveri, who opted for a particular BT cotton variety, only to suffer huge losses. Ultimately, the State government had to intervene to get the company to pay a compensation to the tune of Rs. 5 crore to the affected farmers, he said.
Referring to the Israeli model of agriculture, he suggested that farmers should take up community farming to deal with the farm labour crisis.
Mr. Horatti also took a dig at officials of the Department of Agriculture, saying that unless they visited farmlands and took steps based on field visits, agriculture could not thrive in the country. He said some of the populist schemes of the government were making people in rural areas lethargic.
Criticising the bifurcation of universities in the name of specialisation, Mr. Horatti pointed out that no university was focussing on integrated farming although much was being spoken about it by scientists.
Assistant director of ICAR B.K. Yadav, Vice-Chancellor M.B. Chetti, former Vice-Chancellor D.P. Biradar and others were present.
The formal inauguration of Krishi Mela is scheduled take place on Sunday, with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy as the chief guest.
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