Food Production in India has been setting new records in recent years, having increased output from 208 million tons in 2005-2006 to an estimated 263 million tons in 2013-2014. India needs 225-230 million tons of food per year to feed its population, so why does India still face a food security problem even after increased food production year-on-year?
A quantity of wheat equivalent to one tonne per person for the entire population of Australia is wasted by India every year according to a new report on global food wastage by Institution of Mechanical Researchers.
Pointing to the glaring lack of storage facilities and infrastructure in India, the report said that 21 million tonnes of wheat perished annually and at least 40% of all fruits and vegetables is lost between the grower and consumer due to lack of refrigerated transport, poor roads, bad weather and corruption.
The same thing is repeated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which says that about 40% of India’s fresh fruit and vegetables worth an annual $8.3bn or so perishes before reaching consumers.
India must focus on investment in food logistics
Reducing the level of wastage is not in the power of a single farmer or consumer but rather it is the government which needs to ensure the introduction of better technology and food storage solutions.
The Indian Government maintains that the recent retail sector reforms to allow 51% foreign direct investment will increase investments in infrastructure and improve the logistics chain as well.
The Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal seems to have chalked out a roadmap as she says that her ministry is working as a catalyst to bring down food wastage. Food which is being wasted at the harvest point and during transportation. She adds that if food which is wasted can be processed, it could either be available in raw form or in bottled form at a price which is affordable.
Developing Cold chain on par with international standards
India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables (about 200 million metric tonnes) but it has a very limited integrated cold-chain infrastructure, with only 5,400 stand-alone cold storage having a total capacity of 23.6 million metric tonnes .
The Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata estimates that cold-storage facilities are available for only 10% of perishable food products, leaving around 370 million tons of perishable products at risk
Some measures that the government needs to take include containing wastage in transportation, improve storage facilities (the cold storage chain is much less than required and that too needs to be brought up to world standards), food processing investments also need to happen so food is saved and wasted less to feed more.
Foodnetindia calls upon the government to significantly increase and accelerate investment into food logistics and cold chain facilities in India to reduce the food wastage problem. In addition, foodnetindia believes that India must stop preventing FDI in multi brand retail. It is the rapid development of modern retail in the western world that created extensive cold chains, modern logistics, food processing investments and more. There is abundant money waiting to be invested into India and to better the lives of our people, if only the government would allow it.