Colossal wastage of agri-products continues to be a challenge for India due to poor output management even though the country has emerged as a global agri powerhouse, said Ankur Bisen, Senior Vice President (Retail & Consumer Products), Technopak Advisors, and author of the much-acclaimed- book ‘Wasted’.
Agri-wastage control would be difficult without creating near farm infrastructure network across the country, Bisen told indoasiancommodities.com in an interview.
“The government’s recent agri-reform initiatives have paved the way for the sales of agri-products outside of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) or the designated mandis on the larger basis. But that was already happening with 70 percent of produce being sold privately, including direct procurement by FMCGs, retailers, etc. But they are still mostly buying from middlemen or wholesale traders because they have not invested in near farm infrastructure which is the need of the hour,” he said.
Bisen said loss of output of perishable food could be as high as 30 percent because of lack of cold chains and other logistics infrastructure in the vicinity of the major production clusters.
‘Wasted’, released last year, has drawn rave reviews for its focus on wastage across food and agriculture sectors and linking them with the larger social and environmental issues.
“Stubble burning in Punjab raising pollution level every year is a typical North Indian problem because they are still adhering to a legacy solution in the post-harvest wastage management. Turning the remnants in manure or initiating biofuel production drive are the readily available solutions which can be taken up on a larger scale in a collaborative format,” he pointed out.
The book interestingly also deals with what it calls the new wastage class, which are likely to emerge as a serious problem in coming years.
“We do not have a proper mechanism to dispose of metal waste generating out of electronic gadgets or solar modules when they go past their shelf life. In the latter sphere especially, India has taken a huge leap recently and we need to work on solutions expeditiously for health safety and environmental preservation reasons,” Bisen said.
He strongly pitched for critical policy intervention in form of well-defined laws on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
“Having a sound EPR mechanism like many developed countries has become imperative for India as well. Producers and retailers, particularly of electronics and energy items, should not only be concerned with the sale of their goods. But once those goods have crossed their shelf life and have potential hazardous remnants, they should also be entrusted with the responsibility of getting them scientifically disposed,” Bisen said.