World Food Day: Poor on Hunger ranking, India wastes 40% of its food produce

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Updated: October 16, 2017 2:01:22 PM

In July, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti said that food worth Rs 92,000 crore is wasted every year.

India, which trails North Korea ? and even Bangladesh ? on the Global Hunger Index, wastes food worth 92,000 crore. (Image: Reuters)

India is currently at the 100th position on the Global Hunger Index. While the rank and the methodology of the index can be debated, the seriousness of India’s “hunger” problem cannot be ruled out. Ironically, India, which trails North Korea — and even Bangladesh — on the Global Hunger Index, wastes food worth 92,000 crore. The United Nations Development Programme says the food wasted in India accounts up to 40% of the total food produced.

In July, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti said that food worth Rs 92,000 crore is wasted every year, and merely 2% of the food produced in the country is processed during the Food Processing, Agri-Business and Dairies (FAD) international summit.

Rs 92,000 crore is approximately 67 million tonnes of food, higher than Britain’s national food output; enough to feed Bihar’s entire population for one year. The Rs 92,000 crore worth food also accounts for two-thirds of the government expenditure under the National Food Security Programme, a study conducted by farm ministry’s harvest-research body Ciphet said.

In India, the number of undernourished people accounts for world’s 14.5% at 190.7 million, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 report. The report said that children and women at reproductive ages are most vulnerable. 38.4% of children under five in India are stunted and 51.4% of women in reproductive ages suffer from lack of iron in the blood, the report said.

The relationship between hunger and nutrition is as direct as it seems. If one doesn’t eat enough food to fill current physiological needs — they feel hunger. Hunger can be temporary, such as not having enough to eat for a meal or a day, or can be long lasting when the person does not get enough to eat to maintain his or her physical needs over many days, weeks, months or years, World Hunger Education Service notes.

When a person has the hunger for a sustained period of time, he or she can develop malnutrition, either mild or severe, depending on one’s body needs and food intake, it adds.

Hunger is the world’s number one health risk, greater than HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Statistics from the 2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that 805 million people in the world are chronically malnourished, down more than 200 million over the last decade, indicating progress, World Hunger Education Service said.

The International Food Policy Research Institute’s Global Hunger Index, which lowered India’s position to 100th rank from 97th from previous year, calculates its score in four indicators — undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality, all of which are directly and indirectly related to hunger, or malnutrition.

The government has been running a number of programmes from Mid-Day Meal Scheme to Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan to Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana, however, the country has failed to address hunger reduction significantly, even as 40% food in India gets wasted.

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