(Photo: FAO; FAO estimates that 30-40% of total food production is lost before it reaches to the market)
Photo Courtesy: FAO estimates that 30-40% of total food production is lost before it reaches to the market

The aim of food production has always been to meet the future demands of an increasing and more affluent population. La Via Campesina, an international farming organisation firmly believes in the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agricultural systems. Food then becomes an interrelated concept dependent on availability, access, utilisation and stability. However, in India every year 10% of food grain loss occurs during harvesting, post-harvesting activities, storage and handling. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation describes food losses as the decrease in edible food mass throughout the part of the supply chain that specifically leads to edible food for human consumption. It is measured only for products that are directed to human consumption.

Food loss takes place from farm, up to the retail level and is directly connected to lack of resources and availability of advancements techniques in agriculture. In India, the issue of lack of storage facilities is so prominent that even FCI has to store about 30 million ton of food grain by using plinth and cover methods. In such a situation, an accessible and affordable storage facility for the smallholder farmer is difficult. India’s small-holder farmers (those owning less than 2.0 ha of farmland) comprise 78 percent of the country’s farmers, but own only 33 percent of the total cultivated land; they nonetheless produce 41 percent of the country’s food-grains. Their productivity is somewhat higher than that of medium- and large-size farms. Therefore, in favor of the nation's food security interest, access to storage facilities for the smallholder farmers is crucial.

While increasing the food production is one aim to meet the future demands it becomes equally necessary to ease the tension of produced food and access to it by pinning down the issue of food loss at every level in production. It is also the means to achieve other objectives such as improving nutrition content, reducing greenhouse gas emission and less pressure on the environment. In developing countries like India food may be lost due to premature harvesting out of the need for cash. It causes nutritional loss and decreases economical value. Poor storage facility, lack of infrastructure, and proper transportation at village level causes food loss and spoilage. Whether it is food loss or food wastage it reduces the food supply in the market. This in turn increases the prices especially in developing countries where consumers cannot afford such increases.

Efficient solutions exist along the way by making resources both economical, environmentally beneficial and accessible to the farmer at his farm gate. Its implementation will lead to an increase in productivity, reduce cost, prioritise crops for nutritional elements, reduce financial risk, and make agriculture sustainable. It also promotes India's cause for self dependency. However, further research in the area is urgent and ongoing as the world is in clasps of food insecurity.

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