New Delhi, Dec 20 : Taking a dim view of food wastage in a country like India ``with undeniable inequalities in income and consumption’’, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said that it does not just pose economic questions but moral as well.
Addressing the Platinum Jubilee Conference of All-India Food Processors Association here, he said while food wastage can easily be prevented by better and more rational food distribution, the issue of post-harvest wastage was still more pressing.
“ A few years ago, a report by the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology had estimated the value of such waste at almost Rs 100,000 crore. This is a tragedy,'’ he said.
“A majority of our agriculturalists are engaged in subsistence farming. Their produce is a source of sustenance for them. If it is damaged or destroyed because of inadequate storage or logistics, the livelihood of innocent families is hurt,’’ he pointed out.
In such a scenario, the President said, that the food processing industry had a major role to play.
``It can help build the food value chain by being a bridge between the farmer and diverse and distant markets. It can enter into long-term contracts with farmers for specific commodities and items. And it can make investments and promote infrastructure in the form of cold chains, quick movement and management of food commodities, and technology that keeps food produce safe and edible for longer periods,’’ he said.
Mr Kovind said that India was not short of food today thanks to the selfless perseverance of farmers, technological and industrial advances in agriculture and agro-processing.
He said, “ We command a growing slice of the global market. Now is the moment to scale up our ambitions – for wider economic benefit but most so for the prosperity of our farmers.’’
Emphasing the need to “ fix missing links in the farm-to-fork value prices that food consumers pay’’, he said it was important to reduce prices.
Urging for agricultural sustainability to be maintained, he said, “ Without the farmer’s willingness and motivation to labour all day in the field, the food processing industry will dry up. It will not have its basic ingredient – agricultural produce. The farmer is not just their supplier; he or she is their inseparable partner.’’(UNI)