Harvest and post-harvest loss of India’s major agricultural produce is estimated at Rs 92,651 crore ($13 billion), according to data published by the ministry of food processing industries.
The loss is almost three times as high as the new budget for the agriculture sector, which has seen an increase of 44 per cent from Rs 24,909 crore ($4 billion) in 2015-16 to Rs 35,984 crore ($5 billion) in 2016-17.
About 16 per cent of fruits of vegetables, valued at Rs 40,811 crore ($6 billion), were lost,according to an analysis of production data between 2012 and 2014, at wholesale prices, by the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology, Ludhiana (Punjab).
An earlier government study from 2015 estimated that five per cent to 12 per cent of vegetables were lost.
The food processing ministry also reported that seven per cent of meat, valued at Rs 3,942 crore ($590 million), was lost, about 60 per cent during storage.
Almost 7,000 cold stores were created under four central programmes between 2007 and 2014 to curb supply chain losses. These projects cost Rs 2,395 crore ($358 million). An additional 609 projects have been sanctioned and subsidy of Rs 660 crore($99 million) provided between 2014 and 2016.
The National Centre for Cold-Chain Development, a government organisation, has suggested that too much money is being spent on cold storages.
Three of five components — pack houses, ripening chambers and reefer vehicles — in the cold chain are almost entirely without funding, the 2015 “All India Cold-chain Infrastructure Capacity (Assessment of Status and Gaps)” report said.
(11.08.2016 – In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform with whom Charlie Moloney is an intern. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. The author can be contacted at email@example.com)