There is huge market potential for Australian growers when it comes to supplying pulses to developing countries, according to an industry expert.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization this week held the 2016 International Conference on Pulses for Health, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture in Drylands, hosted in Marrakesh, Morocco.
At the conference was University of Western Australia agriculture director Professor Kadambot Siddique who was named Special Ambassador for Pulses 2016.
He said the demand for pulses in developing countries was outstripping the supply by figures into the millions of tonnes.
“We need to really boost production because the national market and regional markets are very high,” he said.
“The availability of pulses per capita basis is declining because of the growing population.”
Pulses can be loosely defines as edible legumes, like chickpeas, mung beans, lentils and soy beans.
Mr Siddique said the majority of pulse production, in terms of total volume, was undertaken in developing countries.
“Whereas in developed countries such as Canada and Australia there is sufficient quantities for export,” he said.
“For example India produces about 18 million to 19 million tonnes of pulses per year, but they need another five million to six million tonne per year.
“As a result they are importing from countries such as Australia, Canada, Myanmar and so on,” he said.
He said there was a similar demand coming from the Middle East and Europe.
Mr Siddique said in order for Australia to take advantage of the market, growers needed to work together to come up with a business strategy.
“I think we need a coordinated approach, and I’m very keen to see that happen,” he said.
Pulses to offer strong price
Mr Siddique was confident pulses would fetch good prices per tonne, quoting recent sales of chickpeas in Australia.
“We had close to half-a-million tonne of chickpea, mostly in the north east [of Australia] although increasingly coming in to Western Australia and Southern Australia and we got a very good price,” he said.
Mr Siddique said production of pulses took a dive in the late 1990s with some diseases wiped out many crops.
He said the disease risk could now be minimised thanks to large amounts of research, conducted largely by the Grains Research Development Corporation.
He said the pulses still posed higher disease risk than traditional crops, but the new, resistant varieties could minimise that.
SOURCE: Tyne Logan, ABC Rural http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-20/international-pulses-demand-unmet/7339910