‘We will promote production, consumption of pulses globally'

Mr Hakan Bahceci, Group CEO, Hakan Agro DMCC

Mumbai, May 11

With crop output estimated at about 60 million tonnes a year, the global pulses trade represents a $100 billion opportunity for market participants from over 60 countries. The International Pulse Trade and Industry Confederation (IPTIC), headquartered in Dubai, is the apex body of national pulses associations of various countries covering numerous origins and markets. The focus of market attention is increasingly moving towards Asia because of sheer size of production, consumption and trade as well as growth potential.

Early May 2011, at the annual convention in Barcelona, Mr Hakan Bahceci, Group CEO of Hakan Agro DMCC, the Dubai-based agri-soft commodities supply multinational, with processing facilities and offices in 26 countries, took over as the president of CICILS-IPTIC. In some way, it is seen as a shift of power towards Asia. Armed with an MBA from Wollongong University, Mr Hakan the entered business 20 years ago to become a successful agri-commodities multinational.

In an exclusive interview to Business Line soon after being elected as IPTIC President, Mr Hakan shares his vision for the world body and the way forward.

Excerpts:

Congratulations on taking over as the new President of CICILS/IPTIC. What are your priorities for the global pulses sector for 2011 and 2012?

Until about ten year ago, the executive body of IPTIC was dominated by old established European trading houses with a few members from North America, and virtually no representation from the Indian sub-continent and West Asia , two of world's large producers and consumers. Today, 80 per cent of IPTIC is represented by India, West Asia , China, Pakistan, Australia, Africa and Turkey, while the rest is represented by Europe, USA and Canada. My priority is to take the organisation to the next level by creating a more dynamic, inclusive, democratic and participative confederation with increased membership benefits by redoing the byelaws completely.

I am keen to increase our exposure to hitherto untapped territories and work closely with various national associations around the world.

Do you visualise IPTIC, the world pulses trade body, playing an active role in encouraging consumption around the world?

Yes, of course. Indeed, increasing pulses consumption is not enough. We shall work on increasing pulses production as well. It is our job to ensure sustainable and affordable pulses across the globe.

Most farmers are getting better returns from corn, soya or wheat. Most North American farmers are not happy with the returns they get on pulses cultivation. On the other hand, we realise, pulses play a critical role in feeding the existing six billion people in the planet and large additions in the years to come. We shall have to strike a good balance between increase in consumption and production.

South Asia has emerged as pulses powerhouse as also protein deficient region. Does IPTIC have any special plan to service the region?

Absolutely. This is what I had in mind when I answered your previous question. We will have to work hard on increasing pulses production to address the issue (of protein deficiency).

What are IPTIC's views on genetically modified crops? Would the global trade accept GM-pulses?

We have no formal policy on gm-pulses because it is not an issue yet. We do realise that pulses production is not sufficient and we do realise prices have not been affordable over the last couple of years and probably won't be so in the near future. One way of increasing pulses production is to eventually work on gm-pulses. I am aware of some studies being made in India on pigeon peas. Is this good or bad? I would say, we need to feed the empty stomachs of hundreds of millions and won't be able to do with traditional production methods.

Currently, there is no organised mechanism for price discovery and price risk management in world pulses trade (except in India, and that too highly restricted). In pulses there is no futures trading of any significance. How does the global trade and industry manage price risks? Would IPTIC support or encourage derivatives trading?

Worldwide, pulses industry is highly fragmented with little realisation that it represents a massive $100 billion of retail value. There is no price discovery or hedging system at the international level. We do have some national exchanges like in India, but they are not sufficient. Because of the fragmented structure of the industry and price discovery issues, the financial world is not alert about the pulses industry or keen to finance us. This is one of the challenges I have taken upon to handle during my term.

As CICILS-IPTIC speaks for the global pulses industry, we have to create visibility for the body. We shall work closely with Dubai Multi-Commodity Centre to finalise pulses futures trading platform. This will usher in a revolution in our industry. Once this is in place, I am confident that the financial world's attitude towards us will change. We should not forget that we represent the future, and the future is food. We have to be prepared for food shortages in future. That's why we should have more funds investing in this industry's projects and bankers have to come on board. These are critical steps that I propose to initiate so that the pulses sector starts to enjoy the kind of respect I believe it deserves.

In sum, we at CICILS-IPTIC will actively support and accelerate any price discovery mechanism. We shall support pulses production. If our North American or Australian friends are not happy with the prices they get from pulses, we shall encourage new territories to grow more pulses. Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Africa have farmers who would be more than happy to produce more pulses at much affordable prices. At the same time, we shall support pulses consumption especially in the value-added sectors working closely with food industries in Europe. This value-added high-end market will keep our American, Canadian and Australian friends happy. This is how we can strike a balance.

Published on May 11, 2011

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