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Northeast Frontier Railway comes to the rescue of farmers

The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is eager to boost the agricultural economy in Assam and help farmers in distress, by increasing its services and stoppages of the Covid-19 special parcel trains, enabling farmers from remote areas to sell their produce and also add to the state’s consumption.

An NFR official said it was collecting agriculture produce from small stoppages, apart from main stations, and also ensure the maximum reach of essential supplies to remote areas.

“This is possible as there are many linkages to inhabitations originating from small railway stoppages. The supply of essential commodities, which has been hit hard by lack of transportation, can operate smoothly owing to the increased services and stoppages of Covid-19 trains,” the official said.

The new Guwahati-Dibrugarh Special Covid-19 train, which ran on Wednesday, transported 104 tonnes of vegetables like tomato, squash, brinjal, carrot, lemon, dry chilly and other items like jaggery, dried fish and fruits.

The train stopped at Jagiroad, Chaparmukh Junction, Hojai, Lumding, Diphu, Dimapur, Sarupathar, Furkating Junction, Mariani Junction, Simaluguri Junction, Duliajan, New Tinsukia Junction, Naharkatia, Namrup and Bhojo.

“The train will provide last-mile station connectivity in Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland to Guwahati so the public don’t face lack of essential commodities and agriculture produce during the lockdown.”, NFR principal chief commercial manager Aneet Dulat said.

“However, we need consignees to take responsibility for bulk goods at both ends. We are looking for aggregators to take stock of the situation,” he added.

“Dearth of local aggregators is creating difficulties in bringing surplus vegetables and fruits to be supplied to the region from other parts of the country. For example, Odisha has a surplus of pumpkin, tomato, watermelon, brinjal and banana waiting to be supplied to the Northeast,” he said.

The service will provide relief to thousands of indigenous farmers from Assam who are reeling from wastage of farm produce owing to transportation problems. The NFR has also approached Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh seeking clearance for pineapples, kiwis and other products to be transported and supplied pan-India.

Two refrigerated cold vans of 18-tonnes capacity are available in the trains to ensure freshness of fruits and vegetables for long-distance travel. The NFR has also discussed possibilities and scope with Nafed (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd) and Neramac (North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd) of utilising the special parcel trains to connect with farmers and agricultural resources in the region to help boost the sector. Around 497.83 tonnes of essential goods have been loaded and off-loaded so far by the special parcel trains in the region during the lockdown.