Friday, December 2, 2022

Food wastage in India: A concern

Every year, World Food Day is celebrated on 16 October. This day aims at tackling global hunger and striving to eradicate hunger across the world. But question arises are we learning something from the celebration not to waste food in order to tackle hunger? As per ancient wisdom, food is hailed as nectar, and wastage of food is considered a sin. But one-third of all food globally goes to waste. That’s enough to feed 3 billion people! Food wastage is fast assuming serious dimensions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food is being wasted annually. The FAO report further states that one-third of the total global food production is wasted, costing the world economy about $750 billion or Rs. 47 lakh crore. According to the UN Hunger Report, although the world produces enough food to feed the entire global population, still as many as 811 million people go hungry every day. It is because of food wastage. As per Food and Agricultural Organisation report, nearly 931 million tonnes of food go to waste each year which accounts for nearly 17% of global food production. As per the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Food Waste Index Report, 2021 61% of food waste comes from households, 26% from food service and 13% from retail. According to the report, the US wasted 59 kg per household and China 64 kg per household. The household food waste estimate in the US 19,359,951 tonnes a year, while China accounts for 91,646,213 tonnes of food wastage a year That amounts to a staggering 68,760,163 metric tonnes of household food waste per year. According to a report by the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC), 40 per cent of the food goes uneaten in the US, whereas in Asia, India and China cause a loss 1.3 billion tonnes of food wastage every year.
It’s a grim paradox; a country that struggles to feed its starving population also wastes a lot of food. This contradiction puts India in a piquant situation: It produces more, wastes more while more people go hungry. Indians waste as much food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes – food wastage is an alarming issue in India. Our streets and garbage bins, landfills have enough proof to prove it. Wastage of food is not indicative of only hunger or pollution, but also many economic problems in the country, such as inflation. In India, the bigger the wedding, the larger the party and the more colossal the waste. Weddings, restaurants, hotels, social and family functions, households spew out so much food. In an eye-opening revelation, Indian households waste 50 kilograms of food per person per year or 68,760,163 tonnes a year., according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Food Waste Index Report 2021. In India, 40% of the food is wasted which is equivalent to Rs 92,000 crores a year. Around 1% of the GDP is depleted in the form of food wastage. According to the Ministry of Agriculture (Govt of India), Rs.50,000 crores of food produced gets wasted every year.
Food loss and waste undermine the sustainability of our food systems. When food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food – including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG released into the atmosphere per year.
Only government policies are not responsible for food waste problem we are facing today, but our culture and traditions are also playing a lead role in this drama.
So, stopping the wastage of food is one single step that can make our country and planet a better place to live. It is a very easy habit that needs a small tweaking of our existing habits of how we consume and store our food.
Prof Mithilesh Kumar Sinha,
Department Of Economics,
Nagaland University, Lumami

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