November 10, 2020: The mango and pineapple cultivators have reason to cheer as the Kerala state is in consultation with the Railways to extend the service of Kisan train, introduced by the Centre to build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables including fish, meat and milk, to Kerala.
Speaking to TNIE, Rejatha V, deputy director, agriculture department, said the Centre has informed the state that the Railways is ready to provide the Kisan train service with 50 per cent rail freight subsidy if there is scope for transporting goods to North India.
The department then convened a meeting of mango and pineapple growers in the state and asked the Railways to give a detailed proposal to this effect, she said.
Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar said, “The consultation is in a nascent stage and we hope the service can be made use of by addressing all issues of farmers.” As per the preliminary information shared by the Railways, the freight charge would come to around Rs 2.5 lakh to Delhi from the state and 50 per cent of the same would be subsidised to connect the farmers with the agriculture markets in the country.
“If trucks take seven days to reach Delhi with goods, the train will reach the destination in two days. And the Railways is ready to provide round trip if advancement payment is made. If an individual farmer makes use of the service, he will have to arrange a minimum of 50 tonnes of goods. The load must be 100 tonnes if it is hired by a group of farmers and 250 tonnes for an agency,” she said.
M Thajudheen, chairman of Palakkad Mango Valley Farmer Producer Company, said if the service is extended to Kerala, it would be a big boost to mango exports from Kerala to other parts of the country.
“Last year, we exported around 35,000 tonnes of mango from Muthalamada and Chittur taluk in Palakkad despite the climatic vagaries affecting the production. In a good season, the production would be around 70,000 to one lakh tonnes in Palakkad alone which accounts for the bulk of mango production in Kerala. Further, a good number of farm produce companies from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have been exporting their mangoes from the state making use of the grading system here,” he said.
“A lot of farmers have already been transporting mangos by train, but the charges are very high. If there is a dedicated freight train service for perishable goods from Kerala, this would benefit the farmers in a big way,” he said.
However, a section of pineapple farmers raised their apprehension in the meeting convened by the agriculture department. When transporting pineapple by train, they will have to load it in Kerala and unload it in the target destination which is likely to affect the shelf life of pineapples. This has to be addressed, they said. In the peak season, around 100 loads of pineapple are transported to north Indian cities from Kerala, said Rejatha.
Source: New Indian Express