In­dian tar­iffs hit pulse crops

Countryman - - NEWS - Jenne Bram­mer

WA farm­ers are likely to shun plant­ing three im­por­tant and rapidly grow­ing pulse crops, after the steep im­port tar­iffs im­posed by In­dia.

Pre­mium Grain Han­dlers man­ag­ing di­rec­tor John Orr said the in­tro­duc­tion of tar­iffs by In­dia, Aus­tralia’s big­gest cus­tomer of field peas, len­tils and chick­peas, had dealt a ma­jor con­fi­dence blow to farm­ers who were now plan­ning their 2018 crops.

“Field peas, len­tils and chick­peas, di­verted from In­dia, have flooded other mar­kets, caus­ing prices for these three crops to plum­met by about 30 per cent since De­cem­ber,” he said.

“That’s ob­vi­ously af­fected farm­ers’ con­fi­dence and sti­fled what was set to be a rapidly grow­ing in­dus­try.”

In­dia in­creased a 30 per cent tar­iff on chick­peas, in­tro­duced with­out warn­ing in De­cem­ber, to 40 per cent last week.

In De­cem­ber, mid­way through the har­vest, In­dia im­posed a 30 per cent tar­iff on len­tils and 50 per cent on field peas.

Grains In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of WA es­ti­mates about 31,000ha of field peas were grown last year.

Chick­pea and lentil crops were far smaller, but both were grow­ing rapidly

Mr Orr es­ti­mates in re­cent years, about 5000ha each of chick­peas and len­tils have been grown in WA an­nu­ally.

“At one time there was 30,00040,000ha of chick­peas grown in WA but that fell back be­cause the an­thrac­nose dis­ease around the new mil­len­nium wiped out crops,” he said.

“The re­lease of new chick­pea va­ri­eties have since over­come these dis­ease is­sues and plant­ings have been ris­ing and it was ex­pected the in­dus­try could grow to these lev­els again,” he said.

“That has since ground to a halt this year be­cause of the tar­iffs. Lentil plant­ings were also be­com­ing more pop­u­lar, un­til now.”

Mr Orr said WA plant­ings of these crops would shrink sub­stan­tially, rather than be to­tally killed off.

He said both his own busi­ness and cus­tomers in In­dia had also lost money on ex­ist­ing con­tracts for the three pulse crops, given the tar­iffs were in­tro­duced with­out warn­ing.

In­dia has also slapped a 50 per cent tar­iff on im­ported wheat, which has had a far lesser im­pact on Aus­tralian prices be­cause there are more op­tions for the wheat mar­ket.

Pic­ture: Me­gan Pow­ell

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Pre­mium Grain Han­dlers John Orr is con­cerned about the ef­fect of In­dian tar­iffs on the in­dus­try.

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