June 30, 2017 / 10:47 AM / 25 days ago

India extends crop fumigation exemption until end - December

MUMBAI/WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - India has extended by six months an exemption to its policy for crop cargoes to be fumigated with methyl bromide, a gas once widely used as a pesticide but now banned or restricted in most parts of the world, the government said in a statement on Friday.

The country's plant quarantine authority had earlier said that after June 30 India would only accept cargoes fumigated for pests with methyl bromide at the country of origin, threatening to disrupt supplies of pulses from Canada and wheat from Europe and the Black Sea region. India is the biggest importer of pulses, protein-rich crops that include peas and lentils.

For the rest of the year, India will accept cargoes without being fumigated with methyl bromide in the country of origin, the statement said.

But the exemption comes with a cost to shippers.

While shipping can continue without methyl bromide fumigation in Canada after June 30, India is requiring five times the normal fee for fumigation at the port of destination in India, said Gordon Bacon, chief executive of Pulse Canada, an industry group of farmers and processors.

The change will add close to C$14.50 ($11.18) per tonne in costs for a container shipment, he said.

Canadian officials continue to stress to India that fumigation of Canadian crops is not necessary for reasons that include the country's cold weather.

Shares of AGT Food and Ingredients Inc rose 2 percent in Toronto. The Canadian exporter of peas and lentils had paused shipping to India in spring over uncertainty about its policies.

Methyl bromide has been banned or restricted by many countries because it can deplete the atmosphere's ozone layer.

($1 = 1.2975 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Sunil Nair and Jonathan Oatis

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