HYDERABAD: When Jagtial’s mango farmers were struggling to transport mangoes to far-off places in the country, help arrived from an unlikely source — the Kisan Rail. Following major losses suffered by Jagtial’s mango farmers due to the first lockdown, the Kisan Rail offered to transport their produce to far-off places like Delhi at subsidised prices. For the first time, these farmers have not only tasted good profits, but were also able to ship the produce within a day, which by road would have crossed two days.
Encouraged by the Railways’ subsidised rates and going by their experience of the first lockdown, most farmers started shipping their produce to Delhi and other northern States by April. Though the summer was overshadowed by the second lockdown, they were still able to ship 22,824 tonnes of mangoes and totally saved rs 5.58 crore through the Kisan Rail subsidy.
Chief Commercial Inspector of Karimnagar N Devender said, “On an average, these farmers were spending Rs 4 to transport each kg, which would go up to Rs 6-7 depending on market conditions. On the other hand, the Railways charge around `2.25 after subsidy. Delhi is more than 1,500 km away through rail or road and the tariffs they had to pay while crossing the various States en route, along with the lockdown, proved a huge hindrance. Overall, it would take about 48-60 hours for them to reach Delhi. However, the rail route provided a better option and would ensure that the shipment reaches in maximum 26 hours.”
The official explained how a series of meetings held between the Mango Merchants Association and Railway officials, which started in March, set the ball rolling for the transportation. “With the help of the Horticulture Department, we were able to convince the farmers to switch to transporting by train. A series of meetings were held with the Association, where benefits were made clear to them,” he added.
The partnership not only helped farmers, but also enabled Railways generate profits to the tune of `5.75 crore. Besides Jagtial, farmers from Warangal too benefitted through Kisan Rail. Among the goods transported was a rake of dry turmeric weighing 230 tonnes recently sent to North India. A total of 284 tonnes of onions were also sent from Kacheguda railway station on August 24, which was the first Kisan Rail sent to the capital. SCR GM Gajanan Mallya said that the Kisan Rail concept had been started with a motive to encourage farmers to market their agricultural produce at any place across the country for better price realisation, through an economical mode of transport.