Kisan Rail has emerged as an important transportation solution for perishable agricultural products in India. It is an initiative of the Government of India aimed at facilitating the transportation of perishable agricultural products across the country.
It is a dedicated train service designed to connect major agricultural production centers with consumption centers, including major cities and ports. It provides refrigerated coaches or vans equipped with cooling systems to maintain the freshness and quality of the produce during transit.
Farmers, especially small and marginal farmers, often find it difficult to sell their produce in markets beyond a certain distance, primarily due to factors such as non-availability of affordable transport, delay in transit resulting in damage/decay to produce, and unwillingness of road transporters to carry small sized consignments.
In order to overcome such hurdles which have been preventing small and marginal farmers from reaching larger markets, the Union Budget 2020-21 announced setting up of ‘Kisan Rail’ by Indian Railways for transportation of perishables, inclusive of milk, meat and fish.
The idea behind running Kisan Rail services is to move perishables including fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fishery and dairy products from production or surplus regions to consumption or deficient regions, and speedy movement to ensure minimum damage during transit.
Kisan Rail is a step to enable farmers to utilize the vast railway network to gain access to distant, bigger and more lucrative markets. Access to such markets will enable farmers to sell their produce at a better price.
The first Kisan Rail Service was flagged off between Devlali (Maharashtra) and Danapur (Bihar) on 7th August 2020 by Hon’ble Minister for Railways and Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
The 100th service of Kisan Rail was flagged off by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for the route from Sangola (Maharashtra) to Shalimar (West Bengal) on 28th December 2020.
Salient Features of Kisan Rail
- Farmers have to approach the Chief Parcel Supervisor of the Railway Stations from where the Kisan Rail service is scheduled to originate or to have enroute stoppage, along with their consignment.
- The consignment is weighed and charges are levied as per the prescribed parcel rates (P-scale).
- Subsidy of 50% on freight is given upfront to the farmers (i.e. they are charged only half the actual freight for the consignment).
- The subsidy is being borne by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries under their Operation Greens – TOP to Total scheme.
- Initially, the subsidy was on limited (notified) types/ categories of fruits and vegetables. However, looking into the popularity of the scheme and demand from farmers, the subsidy has now been extended to all fruits and vegetables.
- Based on the concept of multi-commodity, multi-consignor, multiconsignee and multi-stoppages – to help small farmers with lesser produce to transport their consignment without any middleman.
- There is no minimum limit on quantity that can be booked, enabling small famers to reach bigger and distant markets.
Farmers have been availing the Kisan Rail services to transport fruits and vegetables, including capsicum, banana, potato, tomato, chillies, ginger, garlic, onions, oranges, apples, melons, guava, papaya, pomegranate, grapes, cauliflower, kiwi, etc.
Besides fruits and vegetables, Kisan Rail services are also gaining popularity as medium for transportation of other perishable articles like flowers, dairy products, eggs and fishes etc.
The Kisan Rail service is contributing to reducing post-harvest losses, increasing farm income, expanding market access, and empowering farmers in the agricultural sector. By providing efficient and cost-effective transportation, Kisan Rail plays a crucial role in improving the livelihoods of farmers and promoting agricultural growth in the country.
Indian Railways has operated 2,359 Kisan Rails since the start of the service in 2020 and transported 7.9 lakh tonnes of perishables as on February 2023.
- Kisan Rail: A Boon for Farmers, Ministry of Railways, GoI
- Railways have operated around 2,359 Kisan Rail services till January, 2023, Ministry of Railways, PIB, February 8, 2023