Sask. pulse growers await word from India

By Nigel Maxwell
February 21, 2018 - 12:00pm

Farmers and processors in Saskatchewan have a lot riding on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India this week, according to a Saskatchewan farmer’s group.

Carl Potts, Executive Director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said he is hoping the topic of peas and lentils comes up this week during trade talks. Specifically, Potts said he would like to see Canada receive an exemption from India's rule which requires all countries fumigate their shipments.

"We don't have the pests of concern that India is concerned with, and there's really no scientific basis for applying that requirement to Canada," he said.

Back in November, India imposed a 50-per-cent import tax on peas. Canadian pulse growers are poised to take the biggest financial hit, as India is currently Canada's largest market for pulses. The country takes in roughly 40 per cent of all Canadian pulse exports.

Potts said he would like to see transparency and predictability from India. He said the nation surprised everyone by imposing high import duties early this year on peas, lentils and chickpeas.

"[We are] certainly looking for an exemption on application of import duties," he said, "or changes to import duties for shipments that are on route."

Saskatchewan is Canada's largest pulse producing province, producing about 50 per cent of Canada's peas and about 90 per cent of Canada's lentils and chickpeas. Potts said there was a significant impact on prices when India imposed the import duties on yellow peas - pea prices dropped by about 50-per-cent. 

Potts said his group has done a lot of outreach work ahead of the Prime Minister's mission, aiming to help Canada's federal government understand the importance of this issue to Saskatchewan. Representatives from the group also met with Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay two weeks ago in Regina, he said.

“Pulses trade represents about a billion dollars, and Canada-India trade is something like $8 billion dollars, so even in the context of Canada's total exports to India, pulses are at the top of that list," he said.


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On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell

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