Pulse weekly outlook: Harvest shortcomings could open doors to India

File photo of a chickpea crop in India. (Nikhil Patil/iStock/Getty Images)

MarketsFarm — As India’s pulse harvest continues, indications have been that initial projections might not be met — which could lead the world’s largest producer and consumer of pulses to allow more imports, MarketsFarm Pro analyst Mike Jubinville says.

The Indian government expected about 11.5 million tonnes of chickpeas, but the harvest might bring in less than 10 million tonnes, with the possibility of sliding under nine million, he said.

Even the country’s red lentil harvest “may have not been up to snuff,” he said.

“There’s no hard and fast numbers on this yet. It’s too early to know for sure,” Jubinville said, noting heavy rains at the wrong time could be the main culprit on reduced production.

On top of current harvest woes, India’s production of pigeon peas and green lentils “wasn’t as big as expected,” he said.

“India, like China, is a big black hole of information and we just get snippets here and there.”

Jubinville believes all of these shortcomings could result in India reducing or even lifting its import tariffs on pulses. He predicted that if such a move were to come, it would be between now and sometime during the summer.

In addition to tariffs, India also has tonnage limits, such as a strict limit of 150,000 tonnes of yellow peas per year, regardless of the price. With pulse prices in India swinging upward, such limits could be reduced or lifted as well, Jubinville suggested.

“If we get some movement to trading more pulses into India, that may not necessarily mean a great swing of [import] tonnage.”

Conversely, if India returns to the international market looking to purchase pulses, “that sends the signal, a shot across the bow if you will, to all the major importers of pulses that India is back, at least for some period of time,” Jubinville said.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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