‘Kisan Rail’ will transform economics of Indian agriculture: PM Modi

Flagging off the 100th ‘Kisan Rail’, Modi says it is a veritable cold storage on wheels

Updated - December 28, 2020 10:49 pm IST

Published - December 28, 2020 05:10 pm IST - Pune

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File

Amid continuing protests by farmers near the Delhi border over the new farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday flagged off the 100th ‘Kisan Rail’ from Sangola in Maharashtra’s Solapur district to Shalimar in West Bengal via videoconferencing. He said the Centre’s policies that aimed at providing access to newer and bigger markets for smaller farmers were ‘clear’ and that its ‘intentions are transparent’.


Mr. Modi said the ‘Kisan Rail’ service would transform the economics of Indian agriculture while strengthening the country’s cold supply chain.


“In August, the first ‘Kisan Rail’ train dedicated to agriculture and farmers was begun to connect farmers and markets across the country. Despite the daunting challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘Kisan Rail’ network has only expanded in the last four months and today, we flagged off the 100th Kisan Rail. This experiment will prove especially beneficent for the country’s 80% small and marginal farmers, who constitute the backbone of the agrarian economy,” said the Prime Minister.


Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal were present.

New experiment


Observing that the lack of cold storage facilities had often resulted in losses for farmers, Mr. Modi said the BJP government at the Centre had invested crores of rupees in modernising the country’s supply chains of which the ‘Kisan Rail’ service was a new experiment.


“Even before Independence, India has had a massive rail network. Though we even had technologies related to cold storage earlier, it is only now we are making effective use of them via the ‘Kisan Rail’ service,” he said, in a pointed dig at the earlier Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.


In a veiled rebuke at the ongoing protests against the new amendments in farm laws, Mr. Modi said announcements regarding modernising agriculture had already been made in the Budget which had envisaged the ‘Kisan Rail’ service and the ‘Krishi Udaan’ scheme.

New possibilities


“We are transforming our claims into reality when we say that India’s farmers can now transport their produce to far-flung places within the country as well as gain access to international markets … Earlier, the ‘Kisan Rail’ was being run only once a week. But now, such is its demand that we are running it three times a week … It is also proof that farmers are open to new possibilities in agriculture. The farmers in the north are already benefiting from ‘Krishi Udaan’ scheme. It is only after this solid preparation that we had moved towards the new farm amendments,” he said.


Stating that the ‘Kisan Rail’ service and the amended farm laws would help protect farmers against the fluctuations in demand and supply, the Prime Minister underscored that farmers in India had an option today to send their produce to that part of the country where there was a demand for a particular crop or fruit.


“Furthermore, no minimum price quantum has been stipulated for a farmer’s consignment. If a farmer wants to send a parcel of ₹50, he can send it to a bigger market via ‘Kisan Rail’. I recently read that the smallest consignment sent by a farmer was a three kg packet of pomegranate while a poultry farmer sent 17 dozen eggs using this service,” he said.


Remarking that the ‘Kisan Rail’ service was a veritable cold storage on wheels, Mr. Modi said perishable items such as fruits, vegetables, milk, fish could now be transported securely from one place to another.

Transportation costs


“Previously, farmers had to transport their produce via roads which greatly increased the transportation costs as well as the time. Then again, the smaller farmer was cut-off owing to lack of cold storage and bigger markets. But now, he can also avail of the 50% subsidy on fruits and vegetables extended by the Centre in this service,” he observed, adding that West Bengal’s farmers and fishermen could now find a bigger market in Maharashtra’s major cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur while Maharashtra’s farmers have found a cheaper alternative to sell their produce in West Bengal’s markets.


The Indian railways had operated its first Kisan Rail between Devlali in Maharashtra and Danapur in Bihar in August this year.

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