There is no debate that Indian society is struggling with many inefficiencies: inefficiencies in agrarian production, post harvest management and supply chain processes. The impact of these are evident in the huge food loss that is reported every year. The situation is so grave, that India stands at a whopping rank of 63 out of 85 countries on the Global Hunger Index, bearing an annual loss of Rs 58000 crore in food wastage. Not to forget that when calculated in terms of food waste in agricultural produce, poultry and milk, India ranks seventh globally.
The socio-economic impact of this wastage can be studies in two phases- one during production and one post harvest. I will touch upon the first phase for now. I am not debating that the Government has taken steps to improve the situation of food wastage, but the problem is so deep and ingrained that the current steps are not helpful. More needs to be done to address these issues.
During food production, India loses 25% of available fresh water, that too at a time when most of Indian population does not even have access to drinking water. In addition, approximately 45% of available land is degraded. This is caused primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive extraction of groundwater. Not to forget that 300 million barrels of oil is wasted in the process of food production- an economic cost that we must offset immediately.
If these inefficiencies are tackled urgently, we will be able to help the 20 crore Indians who go to sleep hungry every day, not to forget the future generations towards whom we have equal responsibility.
Some quick fixes come in the form of reducing wastage in transportation and improving storage facilities. We can learn from global economies who have invested in food processing technologies and innovative food processing practices.
Only unorthodox thinking will help India cut through the clutter and the first step is to embrace science, technology and innovation.
-Subhankar Ghosh, Marketing, Mahyco