Hunger and wastage of food in India has been prevailing since long. Despite it being one of the largest food producer in the world, around 194 million Indians go hungry every day as stated by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). With an undernourished population of 14.5 per cent, India ranked 100 in the 2017 Global Hunger Index among 119 countries.
Government figures suggest that the Indians waste food worth about $14 billion every year. It is trying to tackle the wastage of food during production, processing, retailing and consumption, by partnerships on best practice and technology with overseas investors and by funding internal initiatives. However, the progress is too slow.
Let’s have a deeper look into the issue!
FAO stressed that one third of food produced globally for human consumption is wasted every year. This has led to an increasing attention on millions going hungry in India, while a lot of food goes to waste.
The World Economic Forum highlighted that food production is clearly not the main issue in India. It needs 225-230 million tonnes of food per year to feed the population, and the farm output hit more than 270 million tonnes in 2015-2016.
Sharad Pawar, a former agriculture minister, earlier informed that nearly 40% of the value of annual production was wasted, with crops left to rot in the sun without storage or transportation, or eaten by insects and rats. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) stated the damage caused by a lack of infrastructure a key reason for food waste.
Along with hunger and wastage of food in India, the Global Hunger Index stated that 38.4 per cent of children aged under five are stunted. Moreover, the under-five mortality rate is 4.8 per cent in India. A partial reason for this is inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environment.
Critics are also concerned about improved transportation for faster food supplies, and faster food processing so that less food gets wasted.
Technology and Processing
The Indian government is trying to improve the condition and stop food losses. They are addressing the hunger issue in various ways such as by changing the distribution strategies and using technology.
With about 228 projects underway by August last year, the ministry of food processing industries has also been working with the private sector companies to provide pre-cooling and chilled storage from the farm to the consumer.
The government also distributes excess grain through a public distribution system. Under this, it buys food grain from farmers and distributes it at subsidised prices to the poor.
A lack of storage is the main reason for wasted food grain along with no concrete system for processing perishable fruits and vegetables.
Food wastage injures a country’s economy to an extent that most of us are unaware. Statistics say that Indians waste as much food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes. Hunger and wastage of food in India has become a serious concern that the country as a whole is trying to combat.