`India wastes 21 million tonnes of wheat a year'

India is annually wasting 21 million tonnes of wheat - equivalent to the entire production of Australia - every year as it lacks the necessary storage and other infrastructure, says a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME), London. 

"Considerably greater levels of tonnage loss exist in larger developing nations, such as India for example, where about 21 million tonnes of wheat annually perishes due to inadequate storage and distribution, equivalent to the entire production of Australia," said the 'Global Food Waste Not Want Not' report, released today.

"In neighbouring Pakistan, losses amount to about 16 per cent of production, or 3.2 million tonnes annually, where inadequate storage infrastructure leads to widespread rodent infestation problems," it said.

Overall, wastage rates in vegetables and fruit are even higher than for grains.

At least 40 per cent of all fruits and vegetables fails to reach the final consumer s it gets decayed due to lack of refrigerated transport, poor roads, inclement weather and corruption, the survey said.

Wastage tends to move up the distribution chain as the standard of development improves and regional and national transport, storage and distribution facilities fail to match the improvements made at the farm level, it said.