It is criminal that food worth over Rs Two lakh crore is wasted each year
There can be no excuse for rotting food grains when millions go to bed hungry
Friends, recently I came across some very disturbing statistics: Food worth thousands of crores of Rupees goes as waste every year. We’re talking here of fruits, vegetables and grains that could feed millions of impoverished people. While the government talks about Food Security, it is criminal that food is wasted when millions of our compatriots go to bed hungry.
An Assocham study has warned that while the combined annual production of fruits and vegetables in India is likely to cross 377 million tonnes by 2021 from the current level of over 227 million tonnes, the wastage due to the absence of on-farm processing facilities would also rise simultaneously.
The study emphasised that “efforts should be made to minimise and remove supply constraints thereby making the supply chain efficient to reduce wastage.” Also, it highlighted that India incurs post-harvest fruits and vegetable losses worth over Rs two lakh crore each year largely owing to the absence of food processing units, modern cold storage facilities and a callous attitude towards tackling the grave issue of post-harvest losses.
“Developing wholesale markets together with enhancing the cold storage capacities in local and regional markets are key for reducing post-harvest fruits and vegetable losses and enhancing their market arrival,” the Assocham study noted.
By the government’s own admission, fruits, vegetables and grains worth Rs 44,000 crore go waste every year due to lack of adequate storage infrastructure. The quantum of annual loss due to wastage of fruits and vegetables was estimated at Rs 13,309 crore. Add to it the value of annual wastage of rice, wheat, cereals and others, and the total losses go up to Rs 44,000 crore a year.
Is it a problem of plenty? Or is it due to gross mismanagement? Whichever one may choose to look at it, there can be no excuse for food grains rotting in godowns. It is high time the UPA Government at the Centre and the Haryana government acted with a sense of urgency and accorded priority to proper storage of food grains, fruits and vegetables.