About 40 per cent of fresh fruit and vegetable produce in India spoils before it even reaches consumers. This produce has to pass hands, surviving several levels of negotiation, and travel long distances to finally make it to the retailers. After all this, despite the thousands of tonnes of food already lost before we even see it, food wastage in India is a huge problem.
In the modern, plentiful world of the average middle class family, excessive buying has become almost compulsive. What cannot be consumed can be discarded, after all what’s a little food wasted? Unfortunately, it’s millions of people with this thought that has brought India to the crisis point it’s at today.
But this indiscriminate food wastage directly takes away from someone else’s sustenance. In reality every third of the world’s malnourished children comes from India. Children stay poor, illiterate, weak and unhealthy because they have no access to the nutrition they need to thrive. With so much starvation all around the country, it’s time to take stock of the situation and take immediate steps to remedy it. And in order to solve the problem, we need to first understand it.
Food wastage can happen at various stages. Poor agricultural practices lead to pest infestation and loss of crop, while climatic fluctuations can damage the harvest as well. During packing and storage, India especially suffers significantly. In fact food worth Rs. 44,000 crore a year is wasted in India due to poor storage infrastructure. Once the remaining food produce reaches the market, huge quantities are wasted in the day-to-day lives of the affluent. Cultural customs and gatherings like weddings, meetings and business conferences dictate mammoth quantities of food, much of which is wasted.
While several of these factors are beyond the control of the common man, it is vital that we each do our bit to reduce food wastage in India. Some simple practices that can contribute to solving India’s food wastage problem are:
- Maintain well-functioning food storage facilities in your home
- Purchase and cook only as much as you need
- Donate any excess food to those in need
These measures will ensure more food for young children in need. By making food more accessible to children they will grow healthier and have the opportunity to focus on their education. Let’s break their cycle of hunger and poverty by stopping food wastage. Together we can #EndClassroomHunger in India.