Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar have virtually flagged off South India's first Kisan Rail from Ananthapur to New Delhi on Wednesday.
Though AP is the fruit production heavyweight of South India, Reddy said the Telugu farmers found it difficult to tap lucrative markets in the country, which further worsened amid the Covid pandemic.
"Nearly 312 lakh metric tonnes of horticulture produce is being harvested across the state in 17 lakh hectares, with 16 per cent share of fruit production in the country," he said.
The Chief Minister said he made a special request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, explaining the crisis state farmers are confronting, which eventually led to the creation of South India's first Kisan Rail originating from AP.
The Kisan rail carries 322 metric tonnes of fruits
"The train not only carries 322 metric tonnes of fruits but also carries happiness and smiles of the farmers," he observed. However, Reddy appealed to the railway officials to slash the freight fares for the farmers to ship their produce as he found them to be slightly on the higher side. He also asked for a remunerative price for the farmers.
The second Kisan Rail is shipping 214 tonnes of tomatoes, 138 tonnes of bananas, 32 tonnes of sweet oranges, 11 tonnes of papaya, 8 tonnes of melons and 3 tonnes of mangoes to Delhi, roughly 2,000 km north of the Rayalaseema town.
According to Reddy, the state government had taken up several initiatives in the agriculture sector for the benefit of farmers, such as providing minimum support price (MSP) by introducing market intervention fund.
"During Covid crisis, tonnes of fruits and vegetables were exported from Anantapur to Mumbai port through 11 special trains. Nearly 45,000 tonnes of bananas, 1,185 tonnes of vegetables, 1,471 tonnes of fresh mangoes and 8,000 tonnes of mango pulp were exported to other countries," he added.
Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Suresh C. Angadi, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare MoS Parshottam Rupala, AP Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister Botscha Satyanarayana and other senior officials participated in the virtual flagging off event.