The five-day national Krishi Mela, being organised by the University of Agricultural Sciences-Bangalore began in the garden city on Wednesday with an estimated 60,000 farmers thronging the country's biggest farm event on day one itself.

The university authorities are confident that the number of farmers will multiply in the next four days as the history of mela shows that the attendance remains on a lower side on the first day.

Though the annual editions of mela are being organised for the last 45 years, this is the first time that the event is being held on a national scale with the participation of farmers as well as institutions from different parts of the country.

The event which is showcasing latest technologies, innovations, crop practices and new varieties was open to farmers from five districts of the state on Wednesday.

The farm mechanisation exhibition, which has leading engineering companies and research organisations putting up about 100 stalls, drew huge crowds. The mela has a total of about 650 stalls, including the hi-tech stalls which present latest researches and trends in crop patterns.

The cattle show that showcased various breeds of cows, sheep and goat, including goats that weighed about 120 kg, too was a big draw.

The crop museums which present live demonstration of standing crops in different farming conditions too were visited by a large number of farmers. The crop-wise information stalls also turned out to be useful for farmers to get clarifications on the problems related to different crops.

The growing trend of organic farming was also evident with a good turnout at the organic farming exhibition.

In addition to these, different departments of the university also opened up their doors to farmers to showcase their research and also to offer their expertise in solving crop-related problems. While a day is not enough to visit all the facilities being showcased by the university, farmers were choosy as they visited only those departments which were related to crops being grown by them. One-to-one counselling had also been arranged by university scientists to interested farmers regarding problems related to crops and cultivation methods.

Speaking on the occasion, D. B. Chandre Gowda, MP, expressed concern over the division of agricultural universities into specialised universities at a time when the focus in agriculture sector was on integrated farming to make farming a sustainable activity.

UAS-B Vice-Chancellor K. Narayana Gowda noted that the national Krishi Mela would provide an opportunity for farmers of the State to learn from the best practices in other States.

The State-level Best Corp Awards with a cash prize of Rs. 10,000, instituted by Corporation Bank, were presented to H. L. Naresh of Sakleshpur taluk and Kamalamma of Mayaganahalli in Ramanagara taluk on the occasion.

The district-level progressive farmer awards were presented to A. Munirajappa (Bangalore Rural); M. N. Venkata Reddy and Jagadambika (Chickballapur); Kondana Chandrashekhara Gatti and Anita (Dakshina Kannada); Thimmanna Hegde and Bebi Nayak (Udupi).

Chief Minister D.V. Sadananada Gowda is visiting the mela on Thursday.