Food is the most fundamental among the essential necessities of life. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, one-third of the total global food production is wasted, costing the world economy about $750 billion. Annually, close to `31 million (70-75%) of waste is dumped into open landfill sites. Globally, India currently ranks seventh in terms of overall food wastage agricultural produce, poultry and milk. In fact , according to the agriculture ministry, INR 50,000 crores worth of food produced is wasted every year in the country.
Why is food wastage a problem?
- 25% of fresh water used to produce food is ultimately wasted, even as millions of people still don’t have access to drinking water. When you calculate the figures in cubic kilometers, this is a bit more than an average river.
- Even though the world produces enough food to feed twice the world’s present population, food wastage is ironically behind the billions who are malnourished . The numbers of hungry people in India has increased by 65 million more than the population of France. According to the survey in 2013, 20 crore Indians sleep hungry every night. About 7 million children died in 2012 because of hunger/malnutrition.
- Acres of land are deforested to grow food . Approximately 45% of India’s land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessible groundwater extraction to meet the food demanded.
- 300 million barrels of oil are used to produce food that is ultimately wasted.
Food wastage cripples a country’s economy to an extent that most of us are unaware. Some measures that the government needs to take include containing wastage in transportation, improve storage facilities (the cold storage chain is 50% less than required and that too needs to be brought up to the world standards), food processing also needs to be sped up so food is saved and wasted less to feed more.
While you may not be able to reduce food lost during production, you can certainly reduce food at your personal level of food waste. Every step taken in the right direction counts.