More than half a century back, agriculture in India was going through an extremely challenging phase. Production was at an all-time low; farmers were surviving losses and the majority population did not receive enough food on their plates. Thanks to The Green Revolution that played a pivotal role in ending India’s “ship-to-mouth” existence and transforming its identity as an agriculturally prosperous nation.
Today, Indian agriculture is flourishing. With mechanization and new farming techniques, the country has not only survived the vagaries of erratic weather but is also one the largest producers of several food grains including rice and wheat.
Despite all the advances, food security still remains a pressing issue for India. The food-insecure population in India stands at 255 million. This is about 36.1% of the 707 million food-insecure people among the 76 low-income countries (USDA’s International Food Security Assessment, 2013-23 estimates). India still trails more than a dozen countries on a number of key measures, while the Global Hunger Index 2017 ranks India behind several neighbours, including Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, even after improvement in recent decades.
Several factors add to the severity of food insecurity; however, the primary challenge is poor post-harvest management. Our agri value chain still remains weak and includes several stakeholders resulting in multiple handling of produce. The unorganized process causes huge losses and wastage, leading to food shortage, especially for the underprivileged section.
Poor Post-Harvest Management: Impact and Beyond
Food wastage and insecurity is a serious issue. Throughout the value chain, the commodity depletes at each stage. The longer the chain, more is the damage. However, this loss is just the tip of the iceberg. Poor post-harvest management can pose long-term severe damage at a much deeper level.
Poor well-being: Lack of sufficient food not only deteriorates the physical, emotional and cognitive abilities of people but also hampers their overall well-being. In addition, nutrition deficiencies can cause stunted growth in children, weak immune systems and even social disruption. A well-fed population is the foundation of a progressive economy.
Wastage of resources: Agriculture is an intensive occupation and not only requires a lot of hard work but a good amount of natural resources such as water and soil too. Additionally, it needs electricity, fuel and money for several farm operations. Lack of proper mechanism leads to wastage of several precious resources besides food and labour.
Loss to stakeholders: Lack of quality post-harvest services not only put farmers and traders at loss but also add to the challenges of processors and millers. Additionally, poor quality and price volatility add to their woes.
Environmental damage: Along with the wastage of natural resources, the poisonous gases released due to the rotting of grains and other commodities is hazardous to the environment.
Food price inflation: Despite the production, people face a shortage of food which leads to price inflation and economic losses.
Food Insecurity Threatens Sustainable Development too
Food security implies access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, meeting the dietary requirements of people to help them lead a healthy life. Post-harvest losses not only hamper food availability but triggers a ripple effect, eventually impacting sustainable development in the long run.
While food insecurity is linked to all the 17 SDGs, here are a few which are directly impacted by it.
SGD 2: Zero Hunger
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
SDG 12: responsible Consumption and Production
A Comprehensive End-to-End Approach: the need of the hour
The damage caused due to the weak and unstable agricultural value chain has been huge. The post-harvest losses have significantly weakened the agri-ecosystem and generating a skewed growth pattern, which could be broken only by adopting a 360-degree approach. Since the Green Revolution, our focus has primarily been on-farm production. However, post-harvest management is still not as robust and needs a lot more attention.
For over a decade, Origo Commodities has been consistently working to deliver an end-to-end solution that strengthens the post-harvest and supply chain mechanism. Origo’s focus remains on the following:
One of the biggest reasons for post-harvest losses is the lack of timely procurement from farmers and traders. Origo’s wide presence and rural expertise facilitates farm-gate quality procurement. Besides reducing crop wastage, this also prevents distress selling and ensures better price realization for farmers and sellers.
Open storage of food grain is vulnerable to fungus and moisture, which not only deteriorates the quality but can harbour deadly disease. Origo’s extensive warehousing network provides storage space across India, facilitating longer shelf-life and preventing commodity wastage. With scientific storage techniques, Origo managed warehouses control wastage by 5 to 15 percent.
To date, Origo has managed 25 million tonnes of commodity since its inception, with an average wastage reduction of 10%. The saved 3 million tonnes of the commodity has fed over a million of additional people.
Origo also collaborates with Government across multiple states and provides efficient warehouse support for commodities under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Origo currently holds 5% of the nation’s PDS stock. Under the PDS, food grains are made available (at subsidized rates) to the underprivileged section of the society. These are the people who face the real challenges of food insecurity and price inflation.
Origo operations ensure optimum quality and quantity retention. Origo’s strong procurement network and buyer connect across India helps producers find a buyer with Origo rather than forced to stock in unhygienic conditions for long. With buyer connect, Origo is also able to move the required commodity to the consumers so that commodity is efficiently utilized and enhances the availability of commodity to all. This boosts agri-processing business, reduces food wastage and enhances food security.
Origo has so far procured INR 600 crores of commodity which will grow cumulative to Rs. 5,000 crores over the next 3-4 years.
Powered by blockchain technology, Origo will provide real-time information to all its stakeholders, thereby promoting transparency and traceability in all its transactions from beginning to end.
Origo is Striving to Contribute to Nation’s Food Security
Origo understands that the challenges of our agricultural value chain cannot be dealt with an ad-hoc approach. That’s why, for more than 10 years, Origo has been committedly working to strengthen the agri commodity supply chain in India. The aim is to help reduce commodity degradation and contribute to enhancing the true potential of Indian agriculture.
We believe that our agricultural ecosystem is self-sufficient to fight challenges such as food insecurity. By effectively bridging the gap between production and supply, we can achieve food sufficiency. Origo, with its extensive outreach and a deep understanding of the rural ecosystem, is consistently working to reduce commodity degradation from harvest to consumption.
Food security is crucial and the most important part of sustainable development. As Norman Borlaugh said, “You can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomach and human misery”.