Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Monday urged Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to start two dedicated ‘Kisan’ trains from Abohar to Bangalore and Kolkata for the benefit of ‘kinnow’ growers of Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.
The Union Food Processing Industries minister said Kisan trains with refrigerated bogies should run during the harvest season between December and March for ‘kinnows’, a type of fruit.
Harsimrat, in a letter to Railways minister, said the cluster of ‘kinnow’ cultivation, which included adjoining areas from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, is spread over one lakh hectares. She said the Abohar town in Punjab functions as the focal market for aggregation of ‘kinnows’ and handles twenty-five lakh metric tonnes of produce every year.
She said Kisan trains originating from Abohar can take ‘kinnows’ to the southern and eastern states where there is a big market for the fruit. She said the biggest market for the fruit is in Bangalore and Kolkata even as a significant quantity is exported to Bangladesh.
She said due to the highly perishable nature of the fruit, only 35 to 40 per cent of the produce presently reaches the end consumers. “The rest gets wasted due to high temperatures during the road transport over long distances leading to the loss to farmers,” she said.
She said the problem gets even more acute during the peak harvesting months of February and March as the temperature starts rising in the southern and eastern states.
The Union minister sought to assure the Railways minister saying that she has been made to understand by farmers and traders of the area that Kisan trains would be utilized to full capacity and would be a viable venture for the ministry of railways as well.