Head of State BS Yediyurpa disembarked the sixth train. The central government started the Kisan Rail program last year with the assurance that it would offer 50 percent subsidies for the transport of fruit, vegetables, agricultural products and dairy products by rail. The subsidy drastically cuts transport costs and helps farmers achieve better yields.
According to Ashok Kumar Verma, Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railway, transporting perishable goods on special trains has proven faster and happier. It takes four days to transport perishable goods by road and just 40 hours by rail. This is significantly more time-saving and also preserves the freshness of the perishable goods. In terms of cost, there is considerable savings as it costs around 8 rupees per kilogram to transport on road and freight trains, it’s only 6 rupees. The cost of transportation also affects the pricing of the products. In the case of Kisan Rail, it’s 3 rupees per kilo, so it’s a far more practical option.
In the past, farmers were reluctant to choose rail for transport to other markets and required additional logistics. With the freight cost reduction, this is now seen as a viable solution to expand the market opportunities of the products.
The South Western Railways has plans to ship mangoes every other day due to the tide going into the market. Thereafter, the railroads are expected to start talks with MC’s Farmers Producer Organizations, among other agribusiness companies, to attract farmers to transport tender coconuts, tomatoes, csicum, potatoes and onions. The move will ensure that these vegetables are readily available.
Ambitiously, according to Verma, Indian Railways is also interested in reaching neighboring countries like Bangladesh, as they are seeing huge demand for tomatoes and onions.
The government of Karnataka is now also encouraging farmers to use the Kisan Railway. „Given the six agricultural climates in our state, we are known for producing a wide variety of horticultural products and so farmers need to maximize the railroad line that proves economical,” said Yediyurpa.