India worried about Sask. lentil harvest

(Resource News International) — With the frequent rains and cool temperatures delaying both harvest operations and crop maturity, lentil producers in Saskatchewan are frightened their lentil crop will be severely damaged.

Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was joined in New Delhi by Pulse Canada CEO Gordon Bacon as part of a trade mission this week to India, Turkey and Italy. Bacon said importers in India are very aware of the issues facing the Saskatchewan harvest.

“The Indian importers are as interested in the weather forecast for Saskatchewan as the Saskatchewan farmers are,” Bacon said in a teleconference call Thursday. “It was the No. 1 issue that came up” in talks with India, he said.

Lentils are comfort food to residents of India, so the country is always a large importer.

With the trade mission now complete, Bacon said India is now Canada’s largest trade partner outside of the U.S.

However, importers in the country remain concerned about lentils, as do producers in Saskatchewan.

“The Saskatchewan farmers want to get the crop off, and the Indian shippers want some product,” Bacon said.

The Canadian contingent showed Indian officials a number of charts and graphs to help them understand how the crops would be affected, given a certain amount of frost or a certain amount of moisture, he said.

“We can only tell them where we are right now, and see where it goes from there,” he said.

Many Saskatchewan farmers are concerned that there won’t be a market for the lentils, because of the poor quality expected. But Bacon expects there will be some interest, regardless of the quality.

“There’s a market for everything at the right price,” he said. “What we will do is wait and see what the quality is, and then go out and see who is interested in the quality that we have.”

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