The Inconvenient Truth – World Hunger is a logistical issue, not a food issue.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the food you leave on your plate at restaurants? There are more than 800 million people in the world without enough food, which is around one out of nine persons. In developing countries, 3.1 million children aged 0 to 5 die from hunger. Children all over the world are the most visible victims of under-nutrition.

Over 1/3 of all the food that is produced in the world is wasted. That is over 1.3 Billion tons of food every year. Over half of all fruits and vegetables that are produced are wasted.

Despite the efforts to minimize food wastage, there are still people dying from hunger around the world. About 20 percent of pulses, dairy products, and meat are wasted, along with 30 percent of cereals. These numbers are scaring. Thus, the concern is not so much over a shortfall in food production, but over the extent of food loss.

The most saddening part here is that world hunger is a solvable problem, and yet despite all the efforts made to eradicate hunger, people are still dying of hunger, and food is still wasted.

Food transportation - World Hunger is a logistical issue

Recently, I met Mr. Altaf Hussain who is a Dubai-based vegetable and fruit trader. He is one of the largest importers of oranges and mangoes to the UAE. In 2018 alone, he faced losses to the tune of over $122,000 because of the delayed consignment. While we were having the conversation, he mentioned that “This is not a one-time incident, “I have to bear such losses at least 3-4 times every season,” he added. Hussain has been into importing business for over 40 years. He mostly imports fruits from Pakistan to the UAE.

Hussain imports at least 1-1.5 million mango cartons to Dubai every year during the summer. His consignments come from the sea and usually take 50-60 hours to reach their destination. Each box carries around 7 kg mangoes. Can you imagine how the loss of fruit affects not only the importer but also the farmer and the consumer?

When I asked Hussain, the cause of this problem of food wastage, he said, that it is due to the “unpredictable nexus of logistics.” He said once his consignment is loaded on ships, he is left to the mercy of shipping companies. “I become dependent on the freight company”. I have no idea about what route they will take and how many hours they will spend. Last year, 12 of my containers got delayed for 12 days. You can only imagine how much damage it would have caused my business,” said Hussain.

Hussain said he has no means for tracking and following up on these consignments when they are on ships. “Also, there is no insurance. All damages to my goods because of travel delays is borne by me,” he says.

In rural Kenya, food often goes uneaten and wasted because supply chains aren’t delivering small scale farmers surpluses to the local markets.

In India, approximately 30 percent of fruits and vegetables rot before they reach the market due to a lack of cold storage facilities.

What is the solution?

The global logistics industry needs a one-stop solution for all challenges. Being the director of Indian Agro Exports, one of the more reputable Agro exporters from Southern India, I know the importance of logistics service. IAE works with over 300 farmers in a given season and over 1000 in a year. That means we take our farms and farmers, very seriously. For a company like ours, the supply chain is vital and therefore monitoring and growing efficient, our supply chain is what makes us stand out.

World Hunger is a logistical issue - Food Logistics

I believe that technology is the answer as no logistics company can function with outdated standards of services today. A full-fledged IT strategy is critical to any business, and logistics providers can no longer be an exception to it. When services such as Uber and OLA can bring the world at your fingertips, logistics can no longer work on ledgers tucked away in dusty drawers.

There is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone in a “perfect world.” I believe everyone together understands why it is important to reduce food wastage and world hunger.

Better Supply-Demand planning, Quality management, transportation lead time reduction, distribution network optimization, cycle time reduction, better handling, more effective storage, real-time order management, and reverse logistics improvement are all within the reach of Supply Chain.

We at Indian Agro Exports monitor our farmers and officers using GPS and new tracking-based technology that allows us to keep up with our supply chain.

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