January 23, 2017

The Sordid Saga of Rs. 92,651 Crore Post-Harvest Losses

Shankkar Aiyar, Visiting Fellow at IDFC Institute, in this New Indian Express article, shares his thoughts about the "humongous wastage of Rs. 92,651 crore" and also about "leveraging output to enhance the income of farmers and affordability for the consumer". Excerpts below: 


"What does `92,651 crore translate into? If the money was spliced into the per capita income of all Indians, it would have been the income of roughly 10 million Indians.  If this money was to be divided on the basis of rural per capita income, it would fund the annual per capita income of 20 million Indians in rural India (Dholakia et al 2014) or 30 million persons in rural Punjab and nearly 40 million persons in rural Uttar Pradesh. 


At a macro level, `92,651 crore is roughly 60 basis points or .6 per cent of India’s GDP. It is more than the `87,765 crore allocated to the entire rural sector in Budget 2016-17. It is over four times what was allocated for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. It is more than twice the `35,984 crore  allocated by the Centre for agriculture and more than the outlay for MGNREGA in 2015-16 and 2016-17.The history of post-harvest losses is a sordid saga that dates way back to the sixties. A committee, headed by Dr V G Panse, in 1968, had estimated the post-harvest losses of food grains—including by rodents and insects—at 9.33 per cent, triggering a Save Grain Campaign in 1969. There have been a parade of reviews and committees since, but the problem persists—in harvesting, drying, process, storage, transport...


What is most surprising about the wastage is that it persists despite the political imperative that it presents. The problem involves the largest political constituency—the farmers and the consumers.  This is a political economy where the “seasonality” of food price inflation is a permanent fixture and where parties have lost power due to rising onion prices. This is a country that enacted a justiciable right for food security, where nearly 300 million cannot afford two meals a day."


Read the full article here

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