Chief Minister inaugurates five-day International Krishi Mela, says revamping will benefit farmers

Expressing dissatisfaction over the “lethargic” manner in which Agriculture Department was functioning with respect to extension services, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday said that the agricultural extension system should be revamped to ensure that the benefits of research and improved crop varieties reached farmers.

“The State has produced a sizeable number of agricultural scientists with national and international reputation. Also, there are several innovations, researches and release of good crop varieties. But why is it that these benefits are not reaching farmers?” he wondered, while inaugurating the five-day International Krishi Mela being organised by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore.

In a lighter vein, he remarked, “The Agriculture Department officials have stopped going to villages. I think they make some money out of the subsidies being disbursed through them to farmers and sit at home happily instead of going to villages.”

He asked agricultural universities, agriculture research institutions and the Agriculture Department to join hands to evolve an efficient extension system.

“Any research effort cannot be considered successful until it finds a place in the farmers’ fields,” he said while stressing the need for agricultural universities to play an active role in strengthening the extension system.

He expressed concern over the youth moving away from agriculture as well as villages in search of menial jobs to cities. Urging agricultural experts to give a serious thought towards this trend, he said efforts should be made to put an end to this.

Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda reiterated that the Agriculture Department had decided to free the extension officials from the task of distribution of subsidies so that they could focus completely on their work.

He noted that the proposed price-fixation commission would not only recommend prices for crops on a scientific basis but would also have the power to implement its recommendations.

The Chief Minister released seven new varieties of crops brought out by the university and also laid the foundation for the golden jubilee farmers’ building being built at the university to provide accommodation to farmers during their study visits.

Mr. Siddaramaiah stressed the need for organising regional krishi melas in view of the varied farming conditions in the State. University vice-chancellor K. Narayana Gowda said that the international mela was being held for the first time.

It had about 800 stalls showcasing various technologies, machinery and products related to agriculture and allied sectors.

The former vice-chancellor of the university R. Dwarakinath spoke. Awards were presented to the best farmer from each one of the districts and two young farmers from each one of the taluks. As many as 3.60 lakh farmers visited the krishi mela on Thursday, the first day of the five-day event. These figures are accounted for through registrations, Dr. Narayana Gowda told The Hindu.

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