Pulse industry’s future remains uncertain with India

CNS Canada — As worries mount in regards to Canada’s pulse exports to India, reports from the country point toward a precarious future.

India’s agriculture minister, Radha Mohan Singh, last week announced his country wouldn’t need to import any pulses within two years’ time as it would be able to grow enough for domestic demand.

Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada, isn’t surprised to hear the minister’s statement, as India has had a policy objective for years to reach self-sustainability. However, Bacon said, it would take a lot of work for India to be able to reach that goal.

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“India’s population growth, growing economy and pulse production that is highly dependent on the monsoon rain are all kinds of considerations for India being able to achieve that goal,” he said.

India is also coming off a record harvest year in which it produced 23 million tonnes of pulses. The Indian government also imported 6.6 million tonnes of pulses and stockpiled two million tonnes of pulses last year. The government has announced it will sell 700,000 tonnes of that stockpile, which reduces the need for further imports.

The record harvest doesn’t worry Bacon, as India has a variety of pulses it grows, including tropical pulses such as pigeon pea and mung beans, which Canada doesn’t grow.

“What Canada can do is offer peas and lentils primarily to augment domestic production in India,” he said.

A fumigation exemption, which allowed pulses shipped to India from Canada not to be fumigated before arrival, expired at the beginning of October, placing Canadian pulse exports to India in a precarious position.

The access to trade with India in regards to the fumigation issue worries Bacon. As far as Bacon and others in the Canadian pulse industry know, Canada doesn’t harbour any of the pests India is trying to keep out with fumigation.

“That really gets us to the point of (trade) discussions and certainly we’re hopeful that in the upcoming ministers’ visit to India… (it) will include some discussion on this issue,” he said.

A Canadian trade mission to India from Nov. 13 to 17 includes Francois-Philippe Champagne, minister of international trade; Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development; and Marc Garneau, minister of transport.

“I think (we) need to have predictable trade policy that allows product from any origin to come into India when it’s going to be short (of a crop). And (then) understand that when India has a big crop that not as much will need to be imported,” Bacon said.

— Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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Ashley Robinson writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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