New Developments with India - PulsePoint
December 17, 2018
The Canadian pulse industry continues to work with India on market access restrictions
by Delaney Seiferling
As Saskatchewan growers contemplate their seeding options for another year, market access issues for pulses are surely top of mind.
In the past couple of years growers have faced severe export restrictions for pulses to India, Canada’s largest market. This includes tariffs on peas, chickpeas, and lentils, and ongoing regulations that require Canadian pulse exports to be fumigated with methyl-bromide.
Some progress has been made in addressing and mitigating these restrictions, says Mac Ross, Pulse Canada’s Manager, Market Access and Trade Policy.
Pulse Canada has long been working to alleviate these issues on behalf of Canadian growers, but recently they have seen several new developments.
Pulse Canada has been working with the Canadian government for more than a decade to address India’s requirement to have Canadian pulse exports fumigated with methyl-bromide, but the issue became more urgent as of late last year, Ross says.
While Canada had historically been granted a series of exemptions to this regulation since it was issued in 2003, it expired last year and Canada has been forced to comply or face a penalty fee ever since.
“Fumigation is an unworkable requirement in Canada due to various regulatory and product label restrictions,” Ross says.
In response to this, the Canadian pulse industry has been working with the Federal government to effectively make the case to the Indian government that Canada’s safety systems ensure that pulse shipments to India comply with import requirements, and mitigate the risk of introducing regulated pests to India, without the need for mandatory fumigation.
“Canada continues to strive for a bilateral agreement with India on plant protection,” Ross says.
“It is important that we continue to drive this issue forward with the Canadian and Indian governments as it is critical that we have science and risk-based phytosanitary conditions for Canadian product when India eventually resumes importing pulses.”
After the Federal Government visited India this past February, Prime Ministers Trudeau and Modi agreed to work together to finalize an arrangement to enable the export of Canadian pulses to India, free from pests of quarantine importance, with mutually acceptable technological protocols. Both parties committed to finalizing the arrangement by the end of 2018, but as of early December, a resolution had not been reached.
As part of this agreement, India sent a delegation to Canada this past September to review Canada’s systems-based approach to handling grain throughout the supply chain, to ensure that the exported product meets the phytosanitary requirements of the importing country.
Pulse Canada was one of the hosts for the delegation, which included government officials and scientists from the Government of India’s plant quarantine group.
The overall goal of the tour was to demonstrate to the delegation how Canadian pulses do not pose a phytosanitary risk to India, but it included a very thorough look at the Canadian safety system. Delegates learned how Canadian pulses are prepared for export to India, with
presentations and technical meetings with members of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), and the national pulse industry.
The tour also included stops at two pulse farms in Saskatchewan, where the delegation was able to see first-hand how crops are produced, and how on-farm tools and technology are used to control threats such as weed seed, insects, and diseases.
“Farm visits are an important aspect of the review,” Ross says. “It is a chance to showcase the various methodologies and technologies used on Canadian farms for grain storage and pest control prior to the grain entering the supply chain, even though the delegation did not come in the winter when the Canadian prairies experience their best pest control management tool, the extreme cold weather.”
The tour also visited pulse processing plants and an inland grain terminal in Saskatchewan, as well as CFIA plant health labs, CGC inspection offices, and a Vancouver port terminal.
“It was a very thorough review and examination of Canada’s systems-based approach to handling grain prior to export,” Ross says.
The next steps for Pulse Canada will be to continue to push for progress on a final agreement.
“We will continue to work with the Federal government, as they engage with their Indian counterparts following the delegation’s review, to work towards finalizing an arrangement on plant protection by the end of 2018,” Ross says.
Pulse exporting nations, including Canada, are also addressing the challenge of working with India to improve the predictability and transparency of pulse import policy, including both the quantitative restrictions and import tariffs that have impeded access for pulses into the India market. This work is being led by the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) in partnership with Geneva-based trade officials from many pulse exporting nations. This international co-operation includes multi-lateral advocacy for predictability and transparency in all policy decisions.
However, these trade issues have also highlighted the importance of other work being done by Pulse Canada and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers to diversify markets for Canadian pulses, Ross says.
“These access issues have caused a virtual halt of the marketplace in India, which underscores the importance of our efforts to diversify and expand exports into new uses and markets.”
The Canadian pulse industry has set a mandate to have 25 per cent of Canadian pulse production diversified into new market opportunities by 2025, by growing the use of pulses in food products, feed and pet food, and foodservice operations.