A parcel consignment of 2.5 tonnes Vazhakulam pineapples left Ernakulam by 12617 Ernakulam-Hazrat Nizamuddin Daily Mangala Express on Thursday, which is the first time such bulk fruit parcel consignment is loaded in a luggage cum Brake Van Coach from Thiruvananthapuram Division, Southern Railway.
Vazhakulam in Ernakulam district is known as the 'pineapple capital' because of the large scale production and unique variety of pineapples which has now a GI tagged certificate 'Vazhakulam Pineapples'.
This is a trial run for identifying the logistical support required for transporting and establishing regular traffic for pineapples by giving the benefit of Kisan Rail scheme in future.
Incidentally this happened on account of the association with the Pineapple Farmers Association of Kerala, State Horticulture Mission and a startup techno marketing firm Diem Agro LLP which has identified broader markets in the northern region for the GI tagged 'Vazhakulam Pineapples'.
The Government of India has introduced Kisan Rail scheme to provide wider markets for farmers as in this scheme, 50 per cent subsidy is given in freight for fruits and vegetables.
The subsidy for Kisan Rail scheme is borne by 'Operation Greens - TOP to Totals scheme' of the Ministry of Food Processing Industry.
According to James George Thottumariyil, President of the All Kerala Pineapple Farmers' Association, the consignment is sent to Diem Agro LLP, an agri business startup incubated at Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar and funded by RKVY-RAFTAAR scheme under the Union Ministry of Agriculture.
The startup, co-promoted by Bibin Manuel, is developing online marketplace for fruit and vegetable farmers to market their produce to interstate buyers, especially for pineapple farmers in Kerala.
Normally, pineapple is being sent to north India, one of the largest markets for the tropical fruit, by road, which takes 5 days to reach Delhi while by rail, it will reach in 50 hours.
"Thus, we can offer fresh fruits this time to the market and if the experiment succeeds, we have big plans to send bigger consignments regularly," said James.
Presently, farmers in Kerala cultivate pineapple in around 18,000 hectares of land and produce 5.5 lakh tonnes of the fruit.
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