India aims to leverage its growing aviation infra to augment its agriculture sector

Hitting the right notes.
Hitting the right notes.
Image: REUTERS/Altaf Hussain
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India plans to leverage its aviation infrastructure to help farmers sell perishable goods in faraway places.

In her budget speech today (Feb. 1) finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Kisan Udan scheme. Under the programme, to be overseen by the ministry of civil aviation, agriculture produce such as milk and fruits will be transported by airlines on domestic and international routes.

However, Sitharaman did not share the details, including fund allocation, to the scheme.

The scheme was part of Sitharaman’s 16-point action plan to boost the growth of the country’s agriculture sector.

The finance minister also announced a Kisan Rail scheme for the transportation of farmers’ output by Indian Railways. “To build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, the Indian Railways will set up Kisan Rail through PPP (public-private partnership) model so that perishable goods can be transported quickly,” said Sitharaman.

In the union railway budget for 2009-10, a proposal to use refrigerated parcel vans to ferry perishable products was announced by then railway minister Mamata Banerjee.

Farmer distress has been a bugbear in the Indian economy, and it was anticipated that the government may announce schemes to address the sector’s woes. In her speech, Sitharaman emphasised that the government has a goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.