A top level panel in India has slammed the food processing sector in India for the apparent wastage of food every year due to a lack of the necessary infrastructure in the country's food supply chain.
The report was tabled by a parliamentary panel, which was established to look into the function of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOPFI) and the food processing sector as a whole.
The panel, called the Committee on Agriculture, is made up of 30 members of the upper house of the parliament and 15 members of the lower house, but does not contain any ministers of the current government.
In the report, put forward in parliament on August 22, the committee noted that approximately US$10.8bn worth of fruit and vegetables are wasted in India every year due to insufficient storage and processing facilities.
The panel slammed the ministry in the report, stating that in spite of there being an exclusive ministry for food processing at a central level for two decades, levels of food processing are very low compared to other countries.
The committee said that the advantages of a strong agriculture production base were being wasted because of a lack of storage and processing infrastructure, and that situation should not be allowed to continue.
"The gravity of the situation can be realised from the fact that the post harvest losses of fruits and vegetables are as high as 35 per cent," the report said.
Food processing levels in India stand at 2.5 per cent, as compared to 78 per cent in the Philippines, and 23 per cent in China, the report said. For seafood, poultry and buffalo meat, food processing levels in India stand at 26 per cent, 6 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, compared to about 60 per cent in developed countries.
“With such a pathetic situation obtaining in the food processing sector, our export share of processed food in the global trade is at an abysmal level of around 1.5 per cent,” the report said.
The report also noted that the sector suffered from not having an adequate information system for data compilation, even though the ministry has the mandate and ability to do so. The panel also dismissed the growth data collected by MOPFI, stating that the estimation is based on discussions with stakeholders.