G. Chandrashekhar

Mumbai, June 8

The world pulses availability could tighten further in 2010-11 if latest reports from Canada's Saskatchewan province, one of world's largest producing and exporting regions, are any indication.

While the US and Australia, two other producers-exporters of pulses enjoy crop-friendly weather, Saskatchewan has not been so lucky until now. The Canadian province has been experiencing unusually wet weather for last several weeks.

More recently, excess rains are causing flooding and consequent delays in seeding. Even assuming that weather turns benign soon, delay in harvest, and more importantly, yield losses cannot be ruled out. As of June 1, farmers usually complete planting as any delay beyond the date often results in lower yields on account of unfriendly weather conditions at the wrong time of the crop growth cycle.

Weather woes

At the field level, farmers have been concerned about wet conditions for quite sometime now. Even during the world pulses convention (CICILS/IPTIC) in Brisbane early last month, Canadian representatives talked about wet weather and expressed apprehension over possible delays in seeding.

According to Mr Maurice Berry, a large pulse grower at Carievale in Saskatchewan and immediate past president of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) association, the grain trade has not yet factored in the prospect of a considerable loss of production.

“Attention seems to remain on the excellent crop conditions (especially corn and soyabean) in the US Midwest,” he wrote to Business Line, suggesting that yield losses in his province would have adverse impact on global market prices in the second half of the year.

Traditionally, by June 1 anything between 80 per cent and 95 per cent of the planting gets completed in the province.

However, this year, less than 60 per cent of the area has been seeded as of May 31, according to Saskatchewan agricultural seeding progress report. The 10-year average is 86.5 per cent.

Speaking to this correspondent earlier during the CICILS convention and more recently last week in India, Mr Murray Purcell, a pulses growers and current SPG President, expressed apprehension about wet weather conditions and the likely impact on pulses output in Saskatchewan province.

Mr Purcell was in India as part of a provincial ministerial delegation to explore trade and investment opportunities in a range of sectors.

It is of course known that a very significant portion of Canada's pulses production takes place in the Saskatchewan province which is endowed with large tracts of land, water and sunshine. However, this season, growers are all praying for the rains to stop so that they can get on with planting.

Indian worries

Weather related developments in Saskatchewan are sure to be a matter of serious concern not only for growers in the province but also for consumers in India. Canada supplies almost half of India's annual pulses import requirement and as much as 80 percent of it comes from Canada's Saskatchewan province.

As the world's largest importer, it is in our country's interest to track developments in other parts of the world.

However, one is not sure if the Government of India has the capability to access global market information and adequate interest to use the information for advance planning.

Meanwhile, southwest monsoon has broken out; but there is no announcement of minimum support price for the ensuing kharif crops.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 9, 2010)
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