Opinion / From the Press

Prevent wastage of grains

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-27 07:50

China should take immediate measures to modernize its food storage, transportation and processing systems, and improve the management of related industries to prevent the wastage of food, says an article in Beijing Youth Daily. Excerpts:

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, China's grain import in the first 10 months of the year was 72.5 million tons, equivalent to that of the whole of last year. And Chinese people waste about half of that imported grain every year

Food grains are wasted at almost every link in the production, transportation, storage, processing and consumption chain. The government estimates about 35 million tons of grains are wasted each year in storage, transportation and processing alone. Some analysts say the food wasted by Chinese people on dinner tables each year is worth about 200 billion yuan ($33 billion) and enough to feed more than 200 million people a year.

More than 800 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition in the world, and about 5 million children below the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related diseases and hunger every year. But starvation across the world is of little concern to most Chinese people who until even three decades ago were exposed to famine and hunger. The fact that China still has more than 100 million people surviving on less than $1.25 a day, the poverty line drawn by World Bank, and tens of millions of low-income people are in desperate need of government help and better medical care, housing and education too is of little concern to them.

In Jilin province, a major grain producer, 80 to 90 percent of farmers store their produce in barns made following centuries-old methods. The average wastage of grain stored in such barns is as high as 11.77 percent. Some State-owned grain stores are poorly equipped and managed. The exact amount of grains lost to fires, mildew and pests in such barns each year is still not known.

The capacity of China's cold-store chain, a key index of grain storage capability, to store food products is only half that of the United States and 60 percent that of India. In the US, about 75 percent food products are stored in cold stores after they leave the farms and abattoirs. In China, only 25 percent of the meat can be stored.

The government, therefore, should take strict measures to save food. And since the State monopoly in the food storage industry has led to huge waste and corruption, the sector should be thrown open to private, including foreign investors to promote competition.

The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Most Viewed Today's Top News
Considering money as the end is the tragedy