The annual rate of inflation based on wholesale prices index (WPI) softened in March at 5.70 per cent after rising to a three-year high of 6.55 per cent in February.
According to official data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry today, food prices saw a sharp rise of 3.12 per cent in March compared to 2.69 per cent in the previous month.
This is primarily because of a steep price jump in vegetables where inflation stood at 5.70 per cent. As for fruits, the figure was also high at 7.62 per cent, while for egg, meat and fish, it was 3.12 per cent.
Fuel inflation declined to 18.16 per cent, from 21.02 per cent in February.
The manufactured items witnessed some softening in price rise, with inflation at 2.99 per cent in March, as against 3.66 per cent in the previous month.
The government also revised upwards the January inflation figure to 5.53 per cent from the provisional estimate of 5.25 per cent.
Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank had left key policy rate unchanged at 6.25 per cent for the third review in a row citing upside risks to inflation. It had, however, increased the reverse repo rate -- which it pays to banks for parking funds with it -- by 0.25 per cent to 6 per cent, narrowing the policy rate corridor.
For 2017-18, it projected retail inflation to average 4.5 per cent in the first half and 5 per cent in the second half.
Data released last week showed that retail inflation touched a five-month high of 3.81 per cent in March on costlier food items and non-food products like fuel and light. RBI frames its monetary policy stance on the basis of retail inflation.