Data released from the Indian Agriculture Ministry on Friday suggested that India's rabi, or winter crop, plantings total 125.275 million acres (total plantings of all grains), up from 118 million acres as of the same date last year, a 6.2% gain. One of the largest gains is seen in wheat plantings, which are 11.5% ahead of last year. Pulse crop plantings as of Dec. 13 totaled 30.5 million acres, a gain of 3.23% over year-ago plantings, with rabi plantings normally in the 32 million to 32.5 million acre range.
In an interview with the Hindu Business Line, Ashok Gulati, a well-known agriculture economist in India and Chairman of India's Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, noted a visible trend in lower pulse prices within India, among other commodities. Given the favorable moisture received from an extended monsoon season and the possibility of a bumper crop, he suggests this trend may continue.
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The Indian Ag Ministry has pegged 2013/14 demand at 21.77 million metric tonnes, while early estimates of production are looking for a 19 mmt crop, up from 18.45 mmt in 2012/13, leaving the export potential of 2.77 mmt, the second lowest level of imports seen in the past four years.
Here in Canada, the week 18 Grain Statistics Weekly reports that 833,300 metric tonnes of peas have been shipped as of Dec. 8, a volume that is 142,900 mt above year ago, although just slightly below the three-year average of 839,567 mt for week 18. Year-to-date exports are, however, 118,623 mt behind the steady pace required to meet the 2.750 mmt export program as forecast by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The Canadian Grain Commission's Clearance of Grain by Sector to the end of October suggests year-to-date pea exports of 367,600 mt to China, a volume which is 81.8% above year-ago levels. Exports to India were reported at 240,700 mt, a volume which is down 35.7%. Imports into India have slowed due to the prospects for the winter crop, as well as weakness seen in the Indian rupee and also concerns over a proposal for an import duty to be placed on Indian pulse imports despite not being able to meet the country's demand with domestic production.
The attached chart shows current trends in prairie pea prices delivered to Saskatchewan handling plants, as reported by Saskatchewan Agriculture. Greens rallied to $12.46/bu this fall before facing pressure which has seen prices since slip to $11.66/bu. Yellow peas and feed have also both retreated since last crop year's highs. Eyes will remain on the potential for the Indian crop, with India being the world's largest producer and consumer of pulses.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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