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KISAN RAIL: ENGINE OF AGRICULTURAL GROWTH
8/15/2020 12:34:14 AM

Dr. Parveen Kumar, Dr. D. Namgyal

History was created on August 07 in the Indian agriculture sector as well as in Indian Railway when the first ‘Kisan Rail’ from Devlali in Maharashtra to Danapur in Bihar was given a go ahead signal by Railways Minister Sh. Piyush Goyal along with Sh. Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India. This superfast train will run twice a week on Monday and Friday. The train will cover the journey of 1,519 kilometers in 32 hours. The train passing through four states of Maharashtra, Uttarpradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar will halt at Nasik Road, Manmad, Jalgaon, Bhusaval, Burhanpur, Khandwa, Itarsi, Jabalpur, Satna, Katni, Manikpur, Prayagraj Chheoki, Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay Nagar and Buxar. As a result of this service Onion, Banana and Grapes from Maharashtra reached Prayag Raj in Uttarpradesh within 24 hours. Earlier in this year, in her budget speech Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that ‘Kisan Rail’ and ‘Kisan Udaan’ services would be launched for seamless connectivity between agriculture marketplaces and consumers. Totally devoid of any passenger, the ‘Kissan rail’ will carry fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and its products and various other perishable commodities. It is also expected that the train will also solve the recurring problem of onion shortages. Nasik is the largest producer of onion in the country. The marketing of the agriculture produce is one of the crucial operations that determine the profitability of the farming community and the remunerativeness of the entire agricultural system. A careful analysis of this problem reveals that the lacunae lie in the agricultural marketing system of the country. The agriculture marketing system in the country has undergone a sea change from once being run on a barter system to local village markets to direct marketing at national as well as beyond national borders. In today’s agri space, considerable changes have taken place with respect to trading and marketing. Once which used to be a door to door endeavor and at the most restricted to local village market yards, the agricultural goods today find their way beyond the international border. The products as part of better marketing antics undergo a series of changes through processing and value addition and are better packaged and stored. This segment alone has assumed the stature of an industry and has huge employment potential notwithstanding its better economic prospects. But despite so many marketing interventions by the government the situation regarding marketing of the produce at the ground level is not satisfactory. Lack of adequate transport facilities was a major factor denying the famers the access to markets in the country. In the absence of transport, food products worth crores of rupees get wasted every year ultimately hitting hard the farming community in the country.
According to a report of Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 2016, every year food produce worth rupees 92,000 crores gets wasted. This amount includes rupees 40,811 crore loss due to milk, meat, eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables. The loss includes rupees 1235 crores due to meat, rupees 415 crores due to fish, rupees 4,409 crores due to milk and its products and rupees 3,877 crore due to pulses, The loss was attributed to lack of transportation facilities, absence of cold storage facilities, loss due to untimely rainfall and other climatic factors.
Well seized of this fact, the government of India decided to take care of this constraint if the farming community. Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech had spoke of the government intention to start Kisan Rail. Kisan Rail is the first ever multi commodity train. Earlier, Indian Railways had run single commodity special trains like Banana Specials etc. The trains with refrigerated coaches will help in bringing perishable agricultural products like vegetables, fruits to the market in a short period of time. This will ensure that agro products reach from one corner to another corner of the country. The trains are a step towards realizing the goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022. These are expected to be a great help to the farmers, as freight of these trains will be charged as per parcel tariff of normal trains. The Devlali-Danapur train is expected to reduce transportation costs by Rs. 1000 per tonne compared with roadways and reduce travel time by around 15 hours. Any farmer or any other interested party can directly book their consignments in trains, without any lower limit on the size of consignment. The consignment can be as small as 50-100 kg and can be booked from any stopping station to any other stopping station giving farmers the full flexibility. Regarding loss/damage of products for any reason, Railways already have a well-established claim/compensation system through which the party can get compensation for its losses.
If fifty per cent of the agricultural production can be transported through this train, it will be enough to save an estimated loss of rupees 45 crores besides ensuring remunerative price of the produce to the farmers of this region. It is seen as another intervention of the government towards doubling farmers’ income by 2022. According to Agriculture minister Sh. Piyush Goyal, the launch of Kisan rail this year in 2020 is another milestone in the wonderful journey of the Indian railways since the run of first train in the country in 1853.
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