30 September 2020

“Problem of Food Wastage in India-Magnitude, Causes and Remedies”

It is irony that on the one hand people in India are wasting food for different reasons but on the same line India is home to 213 million children go hungry as per latest report of Global Hunger Index 2015. According to the same report India is 67th rank in terms of Hunger just above to Congo, Chad, Ethiopia or Burundi and worst than Sudan, North Korea, Pakistan and Nepal. Although if we go by the data provided by UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), the situation is even worst and people’s number increase to 230 million as UNFAO calculates its data in terms of standard calories Intake formula for measuring sufficiency of food while the Hunger Index is based on broader criteria such as Under 5 years Age and post 5 years of Age etc.

This is irony that India is running world’s biggest food programme in its kitty still kids are dying hungry- The Mid Meal scheme for student up to class 12th and Anganwadi programme under which Infants and children up-to 6 years age are given “hot cooked ” meals.

Causes of wastage

Looking back to the emerging situation of problem of food wastage is very severe and unacceptable to the developing country such as India which is aspiring to be a Superpower by 2030. It is not only challenging but very bad in it habit of wastage of food. Here question comes in our mind, why the food is wasted ever year so much?  There are many reasons for this like Inadequate infrastructure such as Better go down under  food corporation of India and if it is there but sadly hardly of any use where even wheat, Rice etc are thrown open in the go down campus and it got rotten as the day passes. Problem of roads, Inadequate number of cold storage, long distances of market searches, connectivity of ports, railways are not matching the condition which it should matched, in last wastage of food in the marriage, party, conferences and even at our homes which we hardly give any attention towards it.

In India there are two types of wastes of food occur. First Pre-harvest and post harvest cereals, pulses, fruit, and vegetables. As per Former Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, replying in a query to parliament in 2013, he said almost 40% of total produce of India worth RS 50000 Crore ever year. In terms of overall food wastage in the globe India stands 7th in the rank with Russia at the top. Meat accounts for 4% of food wastage but in terms of money it is 20% in the economic cost of wastage. Wastage of fruits and vegetables are 70% of the total produce and it cost only 40% of economic losses.

Measure or what needs to be done?

Even there was committee appointed by the earlier planning commission in 2012 by the name of Saumita chaudhary committee which has estimated that the country’s cold storage requirement is of 61.3 million tones instead of presently 29 million tones. The committee also highlighted this fact that the center provides the grant-in-aid for states to build cold chain infrastructure which is 50% of the total cost of the plant and machinery in general, areas and 75 % in difficult areas including the Northeast India. Even previous government has put forward the matter under Foreign Direct Investment of Retail Industry such as multi brands, single brand etc but this plan is not successful and in today’s term the present government is still thinking on this.

first of all the Infrastructure in terms of cold storage, railway, road or highway connectivity with ports to be developed to meet the faster consumption of fruits and vegetables in remote part of India from east to west, south to north.  Second the supply chain management needs to be developed in tune of world class from back-end to front-end procure of major farm produce such as sugarcane, vegetables, fruits etc. Thirdly the better policies of government requires in tune of storage and speed mobilization of procuring the farm produce from farmers etc. Fourthly, India needs to be very liberal in terms of taxation policies such as Goods and Services tax policy which is coming as a long pending reform in terms of taxation. Fifthly, India should be liberal in terms of FDI investments such as policies of 100% EOU or SEZ etc needs to be done. And lastly the wastage of foods at our homes and major events such as parties especially marriage, conference etc needs to be in tune with such a practice where the wastage of food needs to be very minimal with the help of modern technologies etc.

In the concluding remark I would like to say that the challenges are many more in terms of not only producing higher produces but also the procurement matters the most. In that sense we need to look this situation critically and try to use the potential of people who are dying just because of unfavorable conditions of weather, challenging task of getting money from money lenders, cooperatives and in last from banks and unable to repay. In the recent openings of banks accounts under Jandhan yojana could be a boon with respect to the Farmer/Kisan TV Channel which will guide Indian Farmers on every aspects of farming, procuring, and getting benefit in every sense because they are the ones which need to have greater chunk of money to adapt modern technology. Hope this wastage of food gets the due attention and India’s potential reaches maximum level in tune with the Global standard. In that sense India will become a true global superpower in the days to come.

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