Though India is the second largest producer of vegetables and fruits (China being the largest producer), about 30% vegetables and fruits grown in India get wasted annually. Nearly 40 million tons of vegetables and fruits, valued at $13b, are wasted every year, which is equal to the total consumption of vegetables and fruits in the UK.
India is blessed with a diverse climate, which enables different types of fruits and vegetables to be cultivated. India produces 11% of vegetables and 15% of fruits in the world. India has the best climate and cultivable land and substantial manpower. Most surprisingly, the country contributes 1.7% to the global export in vegetables and 0.5% in fruits. India’s food exports are a mere $6b, against the world total of $440b last year.
Fruits and vegetables like Mango, Litchi, Banana, Potato, Cabbage, Tomato, etc. are perishable. To sustain a better quality of produce, modern storage facilities, delivery mechanism and technology are required, which unfortunately India lacks. States like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have sub-standard cold storages, which store perishable food items over long periods of time. Large warehouses are located
at towns, which cater to the districts nearby.
India is the world’s largest mango producer at more than 10.50 million metric tonnes, while export is to the tune of circa 50,000T, whereas Brazil exported 1,13,758T and Mexico is the largest exporter of fresh mangoes at 2,07,000T. The crux of the matter here is that the industry lacks official patronage. What is required is awareness amongst farmers about commercial viability, better delivery mechanism and adequate warehousing or cold storage capacities through public-private partnerships. The question that still remains unanswered is that are our policy makers looking at these issues closely, as is required.