February 13, 2020 / 11:52 AM / 4 days ago

Canada urges India to pursue consistent farm trade policies

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India should pursue consistent farm trade policies to help to avoid uncertainty among Canada’s farmers, big suppliers of pulses to New Delhi, a Canadian government minister said on Thursday.

Protein-rich pulses are a staple of the Indian diet, and Canada is the world’s top exporter of peas and lentils.

India’s record imports of 6.6 million tonnes of pulses in the 2016/17 fiscal year prompted Canadian and Australian farmers to expand production but New Delhi introduced import curbs the following year, hurting overseas producers.

David Marit, agriculture minister of Canada’s Saskatchewan province, said India’s trade policy flip-flops fuelled uncertainty among Canada’s farmers.

Saskatchewan is Canada’s biggest pulses producer.

“We would like to see consistency and transparency in market access,” Marit told reporters on the sidelines of the Pulses Conclave, an industry conference.

In the 2016/17 fiscal year, Canada shipped a record 2.4 million tonnes of pulses but last year Canadian imports dropped to 121,861 tonnes.

Record imports led to a drop in domestic prices in 2016/17. India then raised import taxes on some pulses to as high as 50% and introduced import quotas for others such as yellow peas, green gram and chickpeas.

The import restrictions unnerved India’s traditional suppliers who grow pulses to meet the country’s annual requirements.

As Canada’s pulses imports to India drop, Ottawa is trying to step up exports to China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates, Marit said.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav. Editing by Jane Merriman

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