In 2010, India imported cereals worth over $90 million. Due to erratic monsoon patterns and lack of proper agricultural machinery, the production has gone down. Food output and availability has considerably reduced for the mass of the population since the inception of neo-liberal economic reforms in 1991.Further deep agricultural depression and rising unemployment rates resulting from `reform` policies have made the problem especially acute over the past decade. These factors have caused a sharp decline in per capita grain output as well as grain consumption in the economy as a whole.
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By Ritu Singh
Eggs and honey, worth $180 million came into India mostly from Australia and New Zealand. In spite of having largest milk production, India is a very minor player in the world market. Most of the demand-supply gaps of liquid milk requirements for urban consumers in the past years were met by importing anhydrous milk fat/butter and dry milk powders.
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Food items that India imports
India is one of the fastest-growing major economies and has been deemed as a developing country. But still the demons of poverty, illiteracy, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate public healthcare thwart India’s growth. The ever growing population and rising incomes have pushed up demand for commodities including major food items. Thus the food demand is rapidly outstripping supply and that makes our country into a major importer. So India has to heighten its yields if billions of stomachs have to be fed (a fifth of the world`s population) on just 4% of global land.
Let’s have a look at the major food items that India imports and where it needs to increase its production:
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Fruits, especially nuts, apples and dates worth almost $700 million were imported from USA, Ivory Coast, Benin and Afghanistan. Apples top India’s list of fresh fruits import. India’s economic growth pattern becomes the major demand driver. Also due to increased information, consumer behaviour has changed and people seek healthy lifestyle leading to increased demand of fruits.
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India is one of the biggest fruit and vegetable producer in the world .Still it’s surprising to know that in 2010, India imported over dried vegetables worth over $800 million from countries like Canada, USA and Australia.
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Sugar and sugar confectionary
India, the world`s biggest consumer of sugar is likely to import 1.4 million tonnes of sugar in the year as domestic output is seen falling short of demand .Sugars and sugar confectionery take up billion dollars of imports .Brazil, Thailand, Guatemala and Spain are the major supplying countries. Despite having a surplus in the domestic front a sharp drop in overseas prices spurs local mills to import the sweetener.
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Did you know that India is world`s largest importer of edible oil? The country is fulfilling more than 50% of the domestic edible oil demand by importing it mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. The data reveals that India imported record 11,57,130 tonnes edible oil in January 2013, 75% higher than the imports in January 2012. The overall import of vegetable oils during Nov.`12 to Jan.`13 is reported at 27,66,088 tonne of which 22,98,473 tonne was palm oil. Poor crop output this year due to deficient rainfall in key growing areas further pushes the imports.