Food Wastage

Food wastage in India
  • According FAO, “One third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.
  • India ranked 97th among 118 countries in the Global Hunger Index for 2016
  • According to one estimate, 21 million tonnes of wheat are wasted in India every year
Reasons behind food-wastage?
  • It can be linked to people’s behaviour.
  • Absence of an effective distribution mechanism and legal framework.
  • Due to food’s perishability.
  • Poor supply-chain management, results in significant wastage, both at pre- and post-harvest stages
  • A recent study by the IIM, Calcutta, revealed that only 10% of food is covered by cold storage facilities in India

Food wastage has multiple socio-economic and environmental impacts.

  • Wastage of food is not less than a social delinquency.
  • Though hunger cannot be tackled directly by preventing food wastage, food that is wasted in our country can feed many hungry people.
  • The increasing wastage results in land degradation by about 45%, mainly due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive groundwater extraction.
  • The energy spent over wasted food results in 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide production every year.
  • Decay also leads to harmful emission of other gases in the atmosphere; for instance, decaying of rice produces methane.
  • Food waste emissions have a major impact on climate change and result in greater carbon footprint
  • Wastage results in national economic loss.
  • Monetary value of the loss in terms of wastage, accounts to ₹58,000 crore every year–The CSR Journal.
Initiatives in India?
  • There are many civil society, private sector and community initiatives aimed at distributing food among the poor.
  • National Food Security Act, 2013 securing availability of food grains for two-thirds of the 1.3 billion population.
  • India Food Banking Network (IFBN),promoting the concept of collaborative consumption with support from the private sector and civil society organisations.
  • Such initiatives, creating networks and channels of distribution between those who have surplus food and those who are in need of them, are necessary.
Global best practices:
  • 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act in the U.S, encourage donation of food and grocery products that meet quality and labelling standards
  • France, first country in the world to ban supermarkets from destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities or food banks or send it to the farmers to be used as fertilisers in crop production.
Way forward?
  • Devise a national-level strategy to combat the problem so that surplus of food can be turned into an advantage instead of resulting in wastage.
  • The government can create a time-bound task force under Niti Aayog, with experts from different sectors, to frame a national policy to address the issue, which can recommend the legal framework to support initiatives to reduce food loss and waste.
  • Hunger and food wastage are two sides of the coin. The cycle of hunger cannot be broken without channelising the wasted food to help the needy.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top