Even as India suffers from a serious level of hunger, here’s something that’s even more worrying: the country wastes a significant portion of its farm produce due to a weak cold chain infrastructure, with 16% of fruits and vegetables being wasted every year. Up to 10 per cent oilseeds, pulses and cereals grown in India are also completely wasted. Rameswar Teli, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, provided this data in the Lok Sabha, attributing it to the study “Assessment of Quantitative Harvest and Post-Harvest Losses of Major Crops and Commodities in India” carried out by the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET). Food wastage in India is driven by the lag in many stages of the supply chain in the country.
Lack of cold chain and proper storage facility, exports, transportation, adequate processing facilities, and marketing are fields where the government has failed to deliver, leading to wastage of food, Pushpendra Singh, President, Kisan Shakti Sangh, said to Financial Express Online. The total production of cereals is around 28 crore tonne, out of which only around 8 crore tonne is procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), he said, adding that a part of it is kept in open storage area, where a portion is wasted.
Perishable products like fruits and vegetables are wasted due to unavailability of cold storage and improper transportation facilities. The bottleneck in the supply chain between farmers and consumers is keeping the benefits of surplus production away from farmers and consumers, Pushpendra Singh said further.
India ranks 103 among 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2018, sharing the rank with Nigeria. Inadequate food supply is one of the three major parameters in calculating GHI. The report suggests that India suffers from a level of hunger that is serious. A quarter of malnourished throughout the world hail from India and a food wastage food of this magnitude does not make the situation any better.
List of agricultural products and their cumulative loss (%)
Cereals: 4.65 to 5.99
Pulses: 6.36 to 8.41
Oil seeds: 3.08 to 9.96
Fruits & Vegetables: 4.58 to 15.88
Poultry meat: 6.74