The country loses more than Rs 58,000 crore worth of agricultural food items due to lack of post harvesting infrastructure such as cold chains, transportation, and storage facilities.
According to the Union minister for food processing Subodh Kant Sahai, the wastage of food items could be stopped through promoting food processing industries, developing cold chains infrastructure, and filling the gaps in the supply chain system. “Wastage of food items occurs at various stages of handling after harvesting due to fragmented land holding,” Sahai told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Food processing industries had entrusted Rabo India Finance to prepared a report on food wastage. Officials said that losses due to lack of infrastructure would be reduced substantially with the growth of the food processing industry. The food processing sector has witnessed an annual growth from 7% during 2003-4 to 13.14% during 2006-7.
The Ministry of food processing plans to triple the size of the processed food sector by increasing the level of processing of perishables from 6% to 20%, the value addition from 20% to 35%, and increase the share in global food trade from 1.5% to 3% by 2015. “Financial assistance to states for promotion of the food processing sector has increased from Rs 88.13 crore during 2004-5 to Rs 211.98 crore during 2006-7,” Sahai said. According to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), post-harvest losses of selected fruits and vegetables are about 25% to 30%. Even marginal reductions in these losses are bound to give better returns.