1. What are post-harvest losses in agriculture?
Post-harvest losses refer to the reduction in quantity and quality of agricultural produce that occurs after harvesting, during storage, transportation, and processing stages.
2. Why are post-harvest losses a concern in India?
Post-harvest losses in India result in significant food and economic wastage. It affects farmers’ incomes and contributes to food security challenges.
3. What is the extent of post-harvest losses in India?
Post-harvest losses vary depending on the crop and region. For horticultural crops like fruits and vegetables, losses can range from 6.7% to 15.88% (as per an ICAR study) and 6.02% to 15.05% (according to a NABCONS study).
4. What are the major causes of post-harvest losses in India?
Post-harvest losses occur due to factors such as lack of awareness about post-harvest handling, gaps in the cold chain, inadequate storage capacity, poor processing and marketing infrastructure, and demand-supply mismatches.
5. How can post-harvest losses be reduced in India?
To reduce post-harvest losses, India needs to invest in cold chain infrastructure, establish processing facilities, create market linkages, and strengthen clusters for better supply chain management. Farmers should also receive training in post-harvest handling, grading, packaging, and storage.
6. What role can cooperatives play in post-harvest management?
Cooperatives can facilitate the aggregation of produce, provide access to storage facilities, and enable direct sales to consumers. They can also promote awareness and best practices among farmers.
7. Why is horticulture considered a potential solution for reducing post-harvest losses?
Horticulture is seen as a sustainable solution because it offers higher income potential for farmers, promotes efficient land use, and encourages employment generation, especially in rural areas.
8. What is the government doing to address post-harvest losses in India?
The government has initiated programs like the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture and the Scheme on Cold Chain, Value Addition, and Preservation Infrastructure to address post-harvest losses and improve supply chain management.
9. How can awareness about post-harvest handling be increased among farmers?
Departments of Horticulture and Agriculture can play a role in educating farmers about post-harvest operations, including grading, packaging, storage, and processing.
10. What is the potential impact of reducing post-harvest losses in India?
Reducing post-harvest losses can lead to higher income for farmers, increased food availability, and cost-efficient delivery of fresh produce to consumers, contributing to food and nutritional security in the country.