Canada’s big­gest mar­ket for peas, lentils in doubt as In­dia cracks down on pests

Medicine Hat News - - NATION -

CALGARY

Canada’s pro­duc­ers of peas and lentils are pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity that their largest mar­ket may soon shut down im­ports be­cause of a pur­ported prob­lem with pests.

For more than a decade, In­dia has al­lowed Canada to treat pulse ship­ments for pests after ship­ping rather than be­fore. But that may come to an end next month.

The fu­mi­ga­tion of pulse pests re­quires the use of methyl bro­mide, a pes­ti­cide that Canada is try­ing to phase out be­cause of con­cerns it de­pletes the ozone layer. It also doesn’t work well in Canada’s colder tem­per­a­tures, leav­ing pulse pro­duc­ers with few op­tions.

The stakes for the coun­try’s es­ti­mated 12,000 pulse farms are high. Canada shipped $1.5 bil­lion worth of peas and lentils to In­dia in 2015, ac­count­ing for about a third of all pulse ex­ports.

“That’s why we’re very con­cerned,” said Gor­don Ba­con, CEO of Pulse Canada.

Ba­con said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment sub­mit­ted doc­u­ments to In­dia in De­cem­ber press­ing its case that the risks of Cana­dian pulse crops car­ry­ing pests is min­i­mal be­cause of the win­ter cli­mate.

“In­dia’s mes­sage has be­come much more firm in terms of what their in­ten­tion is at the end of March, which is why we’re much more con­cerned now,” he said.

Pulse pro­duc­ers are now ea­gerly wait­ing for a re­sponse, with an an­swer pos­si­bly com­ing in days. But ship­ments are al­ready be­ing dis­rupted, Ba­con said, with at least one ship­ping firm re­fus­ing to take pulses this past Mon­day be­cause of the un­cer­tainty.

“It’s hugely prob­lem­atic for the in­dus­try when there’s no clar­ity on what the pol­icy will be,” said Ba­con.

The In­dian gov­ern­ment could not be reached for com­ment. But a no­tice is­sued by the In­dia Pulses and Grains As­so­ci­a­tion sum­ma­rized a pre­sen­ta­tion that the In­dian gov­ern­ment made last month.

Ac­cord­ing to the no­tice, an In­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said methyl bro­mide is the only ef­fec­tive treat­ment against pulse pests, In­dian ex­porters fol­low re­quire­ments of other coun­tries and im­porters should do the same, and In­dia shouldn’t bear the risks to the ozone layer alone.

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