1. If India cuts post-harvest losses, over 5 cr people could be fed for a year – at Rs 50 per day

If India cuts post-harvest losses, over 5 cr people could be fed for a year – at Rs 50 per day

India is one of the largest producers of over 80% of agricultural products, including cash crops like coffee and cotton.

New Delhi | Published: October 13, 2017 3:38 AM
post-harvest losses, agriculture, India Transferring goods from cultivation centres to processing centres or markets is an impediment. (Reuters)

India is one of the largest producers of over 80% of agricultural products, including cash crops like coffee and cotton. But largely due to storage, logistic and financing infrastructure inadequacies, harvest and post-harvest losses of major agricultural produce is estimated at Rs 92,651 crore ($13 billion), according food processing ministry data of August 2016. If these were prevented, over 5 crore people could be fed, for a year, at the rate of Rs 50 per day.

While post-harvest losses vary depending on crops, agricultural practices, climate, etc, storage is usually the primary reason in most cases. Most harvested grains, fruits and vegetables are stored in traditional structures, made of grass, wood or mud, without any scientific design, and cannot protect crops against pests and decay. As a result, a bulk of stored commodities is lost to insect infestation, rotting and mould growth. It is reported that only 10-11% of fruits and vegetables cultivated in India use cold storage due to the expense involved and lack of suitable facilities.
Finance is another setback. To avert storage woes, due to the lack of finance and liquidity, farmers are compelled to sell their produce immediately, within days of harvest, at any prevailing rate. Due to supply glut in the market immediately after harvest, farmers do not realise the best price.

Transferring goods from cultivation centres to processing centres or markets is an impediment. Due to inadequate transportation infrastructure, commodities get damaged through bruising and bad roads, spillage due to repeated loading, unloading and contamination, and heat and humidity in the absence of cold chain transportation.

Tech intervention through improved storage structures and logistics can reduce post-harvest losses and increase farmers’ revenues. Use of hermetic structures and cold chain transport facilities can reduce post-harvest losses, maintain freshness of fruits and vegetables and seed viability, and retain the quality, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Using scientific storage facilities is the panacea. It prevents storage losses and facilitates funding of post-harvest activities. Warehousing receipts, from certified warehouses, can be used as collateral for funding from banks and lending institutions. Thanks to the Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Act of 2007, which came into force from 2010, banks are advancing over `40,000 crore against warehousing receipts; it was just `5,000 crore a decade ago.

These loans enable farmers to access the funds they require, and meet consumption needs and working capital requirements, like purchasing inputs for next season and transporting goods. They can also monitor market prices and sell their produce, wholly or partly, when prices reach suitable levels.

Even the issue of transportation is ameliorated by securitising warehouse receipts, as the funds enable farmers to finance and manage logistic chains better. Eventually, the cost of better transport systems is more than compensated for by considerable reduction in losses during transportation.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Group Chairman, Inditrade. Views are personal

  1. R
    RISSALA POLO
    Oct 14, 2017 at 10:01 am
    Here's another Ris shocker—from 1970 to 2015, the basic ry of government employees has increased by as much as 150 times, for college teachers and university professors by as much as 170 times, for school teachers by up to 320 times and for top corporate executives by 1000 times! Meanwhile, the average income of a farmer across 17 states continues to be ₹20,000 a year! (Yes, you read that right.) That breaks down to ₹1666 a month. Tell me, what would you do if your income was ₹1666 every month? What Ris found out was that there has been a concerted, state-sponsored effort afoot decades now to actually make agriculture unprofitable and unviable and push farmers off the farms and into the cities, and turn them into cheap labour for infrastructure, construction, and real estate projects! In fact, projections being made by the National Skill Development Council make this abundantly clear. In the next five years, by 2022, it aims to reduce the work force in agriculture from t
    Reply
    1. R
      RISSALA POLO
      Oct 14, 2017 at 10:00 am
      Dear Minster, I take the liberty to write to you on a subject which is very close to my heart and requires short and long term measures for positive results. It's a necessity and duty of ours as privileged, trained, educated human beings to take it upon ourselves and get rid of that "it does not concern me" at ude and to address and act on these most important matters- FOOD WATER, Or else things will get to point of no return and its simple and easy, I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us alright. “AGRICULTURE is being practiced in India since human civilization and its ancient techniques are much advanced than modern science. le of agriculture dominating country is not fully correct as the country has been given status of ‘Gau Krishi Vanijyam’ in Rigveda for cow based farming. Instead of promoting conventional agriculture patterns agricultural education has been influenced by western culture in India.
      Reply

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