Invest in infra to curb food wastage

While efforts are being made the world over to increase the production of food and to better distribute it, very large quantities of it are being wasted. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), about 1.3 billion tonnes of food, which is over one-third of all food produced for human consumption, is lost or wasted. It is worth about $750 billion. The world actually produces twice as much food as is needed to feed its entire population but millions of people go hungry every day for want of it. The loss and wastage happen all over the world but the problem is more serious in developing countries. The wastage happens at many stages like farm gate, transit from farms to the market, processing and storage, movement to shops and kitchens and even as kitchen waste after consumption. A good quantity of perishable items like fruit and vegetables do not actually go through the chain and get wasted at the early stages.

The problem is more serious in India than in many other countries. It is estimated that food worth at least Rs 1 lakh crore is wasted every year. This includes foodgrain, pulses, fruit and vegetables before harvest and after harvest and does not include wastage of cooked food. While awareness about better production practices has increased, most farmers are yet to adopt the best practices to avoid and reduce wastage and loss. Losses in transit and storage are very high. The Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) record is abysmal in this respect. The transport infrastructure has to become wider and better. The cold chain network is highly underdeveloped and this leads to huge wastage of perishables. There is much more investment needed in the food processing industry. Modern technologies and uninterrupted supply of power are essential, too. Better packaging techniques are needed in the case of packaged food so that the food lasts longer. At the consumers’ level, too, better awareness should be created so that food is not thrown away or wasted.

It is wrong to waste so much food when about one in every six Indians is hungry or malnourished and when the country ranks 97th among 118 countries in the Global Hunger Index. If wastage is minimised, the food security programme can be more effectively implemented. Wastage of food also means wastage of agricultural inputs like water, degradation of soil and negative consequences on environment in many ways. A sustained campaign against wastage of food is as important as plans to increase the production of food.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry