As the Indian economy grapples with near double-digit food inflation, annual imports of sensitive items went up by 37.6 per cent during April-July in the current fiscal.

In particular, edible oil, fruits and vegetables registered a huge jump in imports from countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.

Total imports of sensitive items increased to Rs.31,692 crore in the first four months of 2011-12, from Rs.23,039 crore in the same period last year, as per the official data released on Friday.

Import of edible oils rose to Rs.14,274 crore during the period from Rs.8,763.70 crore, showing the highest growth of 62.9 per cent. ]

As one of the largest consumers, India is the world's largest importer of edible oil. Imports of fruits and vegetables went up by 44.7 per cent to Rs.3,152.61 crore and spices by 57.7 per cent to Rs.477.51 crore.

Vegetables have shown an annual inflation of 14.88 per cent and fruits 11.72 per cent during the week-ended September 24, for which the overall food inflation was measured at 9.41 per cent.

The sensitive items are those which are of interest to the farmers and the small-scale industry and increase in their imports can hurt these sectors. Import of products of small-scale industries such as umbrellas, locks, toys and glassware went up by 50.4 per cent to Rs.659.83 crore for the April-July period.

However, import of milk, tea and coffee witnessed a decline 41.8 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively. Thanks to a bumper crop, foodgrains imports dropped by 92.1 per cent.

Sensitive items

Imports of sensitive items from Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Argentina, Germany, South Korea, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Thailand and the U.K. have gone up, while those from Myanmar and Australia have gone down.

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