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The role of energy in mitigating grain storage losses in India and the impact for nutrition

Narasimha Rao and 4 other contributors

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    Abstract

    Globally, India's population is amongst the most severely impacted by nutrient deficiency, yet millions of tonnes of food are lost along the supply chain before reaching consumers. Across food groups, grains represent the largest share of daily calories and overall losses by mass in India. This study quantifies energy input to minimise storage losses across India, responsible for up to a quarter of grain losses. In doing so, we explore links between three Sustainable Development Goals-SDG2, SDG7, and SDG12-, and provide insight for development of joined up agriculture and health policy in the country. Focusing on rice, wheat, maize, bajra, and sorghum, we quantify one route to reduce losses in supply chains, by modelling the energy input to maintain favourable climatic conditions in modern silo storage. We quantify key nutrients (calories, protein, zinc, iron, vitamin A) contained within these losses, and calculate roughly how much deficiency in these dietary components could be reduced if grain losses were eliminated. Our modelling indicates that maize has the highest energy input intensity for storage, at 110 (18) kWh per tonne of grain (kWh/t), and wheat the lowest, at 72 (14) kWh/t. This energy cost represents 8%-16% of the energy input required in grain production. We estimate if grain losses across the supply chain were saved and targeted to India's nutritionally deficient population, average protein deficiency could reduce by 46 +/- 4%, calorie by 27 +/- 2%, zinc by 26 +/- 2% and iron by 11 +/- 1%.