New Delhi [India], December 28 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that more than 80 per cent small and marginal farmers in the country have been empowered with Kisan Rail as the minimum quantity to be sent has not been fixed and a farmer can send even 50-100 kg parcel.
The Prime Minister, who flagged off the 100th Kisan Rail from Sangola in Maharashtra to Shalimar in West Bengal today via video conferencing, said recent reforms in agriculture will lead to expansion of agribusiness and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and cooperative groups will be the biggest beneficiaries.
He said private investment in agriculture will support the government's effort to help these groups.
The Prime Minister noted that he had read somewhere that the smallest railway consignment that has been delivered by Kisan Rail is a three kg packet of pomegranates and a farmer had also sent 17 dozen eggs through Kisan Rail.
"The country's 80 per cent or more small and marginal farmers have got a lot of strength due to Kisan Rail. This is because there is no minimum cap on loading the farm produce through these trains. If a small farmer also wants to send 50-100 kg of farm produce, he can do so through Kisan Rail," PM Modi.
He said the first Farm Rail started in August and farmers in all parts of the country are being connected through it.
PM Modi said Kisan Rail flagged off today will provide access to the markets of Maharashtra to the produce of farmers of West Bengal.
"In the face of the corona challenge, the Kisan Rail network has reached the figure of 100 today. Today the 100th Kisan Rail began its journey from Maharashtra's Sangola to West Bengal's Shalimar. In one way, the reach of West Bengal's farmers, fishermen and animal keepers will be extended to Maharashtra's big markets like Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. The people of Maharashtra have got a cheap way to connect with the markets of West Bengal," he said.
"The railways which connected the entire country is also connecting the agricultural markets. The Kisan Rail service is a big step towards raising the income of farmers of the country. The farming system will see a change. The cold supply chain will also be boosted," he added.
The Prime Minister said lack of adequate cold storage facilities have affected farmers. "Our government is focusing on increasing the facilities for cold storage for farm produce."
He said that Kisan Rail and Krishi Udan (agriculture flights) will bolster the incomes of farmers across the country.
"Our policy is clear in terms of providing better and bigger markets to small farmers at cheap prices. We had announced the important schemes in budget regarding this policy - Kisan Rail and Krishi-Udan. We are delivering on our promises on the ground. Kisan Rail was weekly in the beginning. Now due to increased demand the trains are being run on a tri-weekly basis. It is clear what the farmers of the country want."
He said the work is being done in service of the farmers and it is evident that they are ready to conquer new frontiers.
"Kisan Rail and Krishi Udan schemes are facilitating the farmers to sell their produce in other states. The farmers of the north-east are reaping the benefits of Krishi Udan. On the basis of these solid preparations, we have headed towards historical farm reforms," he added.
He said Kisan Rail will help reduce expenses of farmer and they will get access to markets where there is a demand for their produce and cited an example of how tomato farmers have benefited.
PM Modi also said that railways is a cheaper mode of transporting farm produce.
"Kisan Rail is moving cold storage as well. Perishable food items like fruits, fish or milk are being transported through these trains. Earlier, these produce used to be transported by road which was costlier. Whether it be the crop grower or consumer, it used to be costlier for both," he said.
"The train that left from Maharashtra to West Bengal is transporting food items like pomegranates, grapes, oranges and custard apples. This train will reach within the next 40 hours to its destination. The transportation through roads takes longer," he said, adding that farmers of West Benal will also benefit.
He also referred to the subsidy in the transportation of fruits and vegetables and said cash crops and nutritious farm produce will get a boost due to Kisan Rail.
"To boost employment in rural areas, new facilities and new solutions are very important. With this objective in mind, farm reforms are being initiated in the country," he added.
He said the experts related to agriculture are working on integrating new technologies in agriculture. "Perishable cargo centres are being formed near the railway stations in the country. The farmers can store their produce there."
The Prime Minister said that under PM Krishi Sampada Yojana, mega food parks, cold chain infrastructure, agro-processing clusters, processing units numbering around 6,500 have been approved.
"Under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, Rs 10,000 crores have been sanctioned for micro-food processing units."
PM Modi stressed on the cooperation of youth and women self-help groups for the farm reforms to be effective.
"The farm reforms is based on the cooperation of the farmers. The biggest strength of the farm reforms is the participation of the youth of villages. Whether it be Farm Producer Organisations, women's self-help groups they are being given priority. The new farm reforms will benefit the youth and women of the villages. The private investment in farm reforms will aid the government's efforts to bolster farmers and agriculture," he said.
He said the government has been giving focus to storage-linked infrastructure and processing industries associated with value addition in farming products. (ANI)