Pulse industry still awaits answers from India

Lentil dal. (PulseCanada.com)

CNS Canada — Almost three weeks since Canada’s pulse fumigation exemption expired in India, the Canadian pulse industry is still in the dark.

“We’re just looking to have some clarity as to how Canada/India pulse trade’s going to play out in the long term and with a long-term policy solution,” Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada, said Friday.

There are hopes the upcoming week will bring answers after Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, ends in India. There has also been talk within the industry that some larger pulse exporters are still exporting to India and paying the levy.

Canada has been exempt since 2004 from Indian government regulations which require pulses shipped to the country to be fumigated before arriving. The fumigation process doesn’t work well in cold weather and Canada doesn’t have the nematode pest India is trying to keep out through fumigation.

India has renewed the extensions regularly since 2004. Initially the renewals happened annually, and later every six months. In July the extension was changed again to three months for Canada, with the latest expiring Sept. 30.

“That was the first time we had gone to a three-month policy… and then we had anticipated that within five or seven days of the end of September, following what they had done in July, India would tell what was the new policy,” Bacon said.

For Bacon it has become more frustrating by the day as other nations, such as the U.S. and France, export pulses to India, having been granted extensions.

“India can do many things at a domestic level but there’s no basis for treating Canada differently” for trade, he said.

Pulse Canada wants to get the issue straightened out so trade can continue between the two nations, he said, noting in the past Canada has provided up to 50 per cent of India’s pulses.

India is now coming off of a large harvest where it produced 23 million tonnes of pulses, 20 per cent higher than its previous record. The Indian government also imported 6.6 million tonnes of pulses and stockpiled two million tonnes last year. The government has announced it will sell 700,000 tonnes of that stockpile, which reduces the need for further imports.

“We’ve had good production globally but we’re really aren’t looking for policies that are season-to-season and crop-to-crop. You want to create this trade policy that allows long-term contracts to take place,” 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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