Mumbai: Strengthening of backward and forward linkages will help in controlling the food wastage, which is estimated at over Rs 40,000 crore, and also aid in curbing inflation, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said on Thursday.
"The food wastage plays a very important role in inflation. Because of wastage, market availability declines and that directly leads to inflation. So if we control it (wastage) we can control inflation," she said here after inaugurating the 'FICCI Foodworld India 2014' conference.
Eighteen per cent of the food produced in the country is wasted. If rising food prices worry the consumer, they worry politicians as well, she said and noted that governments have fallen in the past when onion rates reached Rs 40 a kg.
The Minister opined that further strengthening of backward and forward linkages in the industry would go a long way in controlling the wastage. The food processing industry could play a very important role here.
"Food processed is food saved," she stated, adding, over Rs 40,000 crore worth of food is wasted, most of it during harvesting and transport.
Badal said the rate at which India's population is growing - at 1.5 per cent per year, the food consumption demand is likely to go up three times in another few years.
With agricultural land shrinking, growing more food from less land to feed more people is a huge challenge. There are huge opportunities for the food processing sector, which will play a key role in addressing these challenges, she said.
Badal called upon the industry to educate farmers about the latest farm technologies and good practices so that they can produce more and get better value from the land.
On the occasion, the Minister also released an annual report on Indian food processing industry titled 'Keeping pace with evolving consumer needs'.
In his address, Siraj Hussain, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, said all participants in the food chain had tremendous opportunity to contribute to the rapid growth of the industry. The Government is addressing the losses in the supply chain, and has made headway in the case of grapes, apples and bananas.
Hussain said very soon the industry will see a welcome change in taxation policies as the country shifts to GST. It is unlikely that there will be zero taxation on food, but the Centre is trying to keep it as low as possible.