According to Indian Council of Agricultural Research scientists last week, India, one of the key players in the global agricultural commodities market, wastes about 74 million tonnes of food every year. This accounts for roughly 8% of the 931 million tonnes of food wasted globally. Beyond the numbers, that kind of wastage is criminal. Here, two definitions are essential. ‘Food loss’ means the loss of agricultural produce between the farm- land and the retail level. ‘Food wastage’ denotes the loss of food at the retail, food service and household level. Both are global challenges in the SDG charter of action, which aims to halve percapita global food waste and reduce food losses.
There are several reasons behind India’s colossal food loss. The country lacks arobustcold chain and storage infrastructure, particularly at the farm level, and interme- diate processing in the production catch- ments. This is why, on Friday, at World Food India 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Mo- di urged startups and companies to invest in the processing sector. Along with better storage and process- ing infra, farmers also need to be re-educated on reducingloss- es during harvesting, threshing, and sorting and grading of produce. However, all these efforts will come to nought unless the road and transport infrastructure is improved.
Investing in the farm-to-fork infrastructure is not just crucial for reducing the loss of precious agricultural commodities and ensuring food security, it is essential for making agriculture sustainable every kilogram of food loss also means waste of another critical and over-exploited natural resource: water.