As per the Global Hunger Index 2019, India has been ranked 102 out of 117 countries, in terms of severity of hunger. However, Did you know in terms of total calorie content, India is the second-largest food producer in the world? If we take into consideration the total value of agricultural production instead, India fall to the fourth position below China, the U.S. and Bazil. Yet we stand among the top 4 in case of production; still, hunger prevails in India. How?
Despite being in the top-ranking 194 million citizens of India go hungry every day. You might be wondering how? We might belong to the category of largest producer, but we are also one among the largest wasters of food.
How are these food wasted?
As per the study conducted by the United Nations Development Programme, up to 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. Next time while walking around the city check the waste bins, for that matter check your house waste bin–you will realise how much of food is wasted. Approximately 20% of the food we buy end up in garbage unused. Please note I’m not just saying about the cooked food items alone. Here we are discussing pre-consumption and post-consumption food items being wasted.
According to the agriculture ministry around INR 50,000 crores worth of food is wasted annually. Imagine that much amount of food if appropriately used, we would be able to feed the needy.
An extensive food wastage happens in Indian weddings, the larger the wedding, the more the food items and more the wastage. Moreover, restaurants and hotels also add to this.
In the year 2016, India had produced nearly 270 million tons of food items, yet the amount turns out to be insufficient to feed the population. Why? As these do not reach the needy. Lack of transportation and improper storage also play a vital role in wastage. Furthermore, food gets spoiled as rats and insects eat the food stored in the warehouses.
The wastage of food also has an indirect effect on the environment. Yes, I know your next question is HOW?
How does the wastage of food affect the environment?
Apart from causing environmental pollution by disposing of food, these become the hub for stray animals–especially dogs. If we check the Indian population and the amount of food required– around 230 million tons of food is needed to feed the entire nation. However, to produce such a colossal amount we damage our environment a lot through–deforestation, the release of greenhouse gases, use of pesticides and other fertilisers. This would ultimately cause global warming, pollution and whatnot.
These crops cultivated need fresh water for the proper growth, and as per records, 25% of the freshwater used to produce food is ultimately wasted. Even when millions of people in our country struggle to have drinking water, we can’t close our eyes towards such wastage of water. Nearly 45% of the forest land is destroyed for cultivation purpose. 300 million barrels of oil are used to produce food that is ultimately wasted.
What can be done to save people from hunger?
Awareness programs have been initiated in the past few years, wherein restaurants and hotels either give away their unsold food to orphanages or their staffs. In the case of weddings, event management companies manage these by offering it to a charitable trust and more. Nonetheless, such awareness does not happen at pan India level. Whereas in other countries there are strict rules regarding the same.
Is it just the rules and regulation that help to solve this major issue? Of course not, if each individual decides not to waste what is being served/bought, and such behaviour is induced from childhood– we can relatively feed many people unknowingly.
As some rightly said, there is more fruit in a rich man’s shampoo than in poor man’s plate. Now, that the world’s hunger is getting ridiculous, for the sake of humanity, let’s not waste any more food.