Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain with significant negative impact, including on natural resources and environment. Discuss. Suggest strategies to deal with this problem.

Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain with significant negative impact, including on natural resources and environment. Discuss. Suggest strategies to deal with this problem.

Approach:

  • Introduce with the issue of food wastage and brief reasons why
  • Discuss impact of food wastage
  • Suggest ways like processing and logistics to reduce food wastage
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. An estimated 21 million tonnes of wheat are wasted in India every year.

Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production to final household consumption. A recent study revealed that only 10% of food is covered by cold storage facilities in India. Poor storage coupled with poor supply-chain management and low processing capacity results in significant wastage, both at pre- and post-harvest stages, of cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables.

Impact of food wastage:

  • Waste of resources: The wastage of food entails loss of considerable amount of resources used in production such as land, water, energy and inputs.
  • Economic impact: Wastage results in national economic loss. One study estimated that India loses Rs. 58,000 crore every year in terms of wastage.
  • Environmental impact: The energy spent over wasted food results in an estimated 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide production every year. Food waste emissions (like methane from decaying of rice) have impact on climate change.
  • Social impact: The substantial amount of food that is wasted in India can feed many hungry and undernourished people, as can be seen from India’s 97th rank in the Global Hunger Index for 2016.

Ways to reduce food wastage:

  • Food processing: India is currently only processing 10 per cent of its food, resulting in enormous food waste. We must partner with food processing industry from developed countries by borrowing best practices, technology and innovation, as well as inviting them for investment
  • Logistics: There is a need to modernise its food supply chain and attract large-scale investment into cold-storage, refrigerated trucks and other modern logistics.
  • Networks of food banks: Creating networks and channels of distribution between those who have surplus food and those who are in need of them, may be promoted.
  • International practices to encourage donation: India can follow US and French laws banning supermarkets from destroying unsold food and facilitating donation.

It is unconscionable for India, one of the world’s largest producers of food, to have so much food wastage while a significant proportion of the population is undernourished. A comprehensive national strategy to tackle food wastage by combining the efforts of the government and private sectors and civil society is needed.

Subjects : Editorials

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