Australian Pulse Conference shines spotlight on research, production, markets

Liz Wells, September 20, 2019

The annual Southern Pulse Agronomy Field Day will open the program for APC2019. Photo: Clarisa Collis, GRDC GroundCover magazine

AN INSIGHT into research, production and markets from speakers with unparalleled knowledge in their fields is on offer to delegates attending the Australian Pulse Conference (APC) 2019.

The event will take place 15-17 October at Horsham in the Wimmera district of Victoria, one of Australia’s major pulse-producing, processing and packing regions.

APC 2019 is Australia’s third triennial national pulse event, with close to 200 delegates already registered.

Agriculture Victoria senior research scientist and pulse breeder and APC 2019 chairman Garry Rosewarne said the program’s opening day will give delegates a splendid opportunity to see how Australian-bred varieties are performing, and the farming practices maximising their potential.

“We have teamed up with the annual Southern Pulse Agronomy Field Day, always well-attended by growers and industry, to look at what’s available to growers of chickpeas, faba beans, field peas, lentils and lupins,” Dr Rosewarne said.

The field day will include the release of several new varieties, discussions around disease management in chickpeas and faba beans, and a look at advances being made in herbicide tolerance.

At the conclusion of the field day, delegates will have the option of visiting the Victorian Government’s Grains Innovation Park, or a commercial facility.

Diverse program

APC2019’s second and third day bring the event indoors to hear a line-up of speakers and discussions of interest to delegates from Australia and overseas.

“We have some exciting developments happening in pulse processing in Australia, and our exporters are targeting and accessing new markets,” he said.

“Our sessions will be discussing what’s happening in those spaces, and we’ll also be looking at how disciplines are helping varieties to push yield boundaries, and how technologies like remote sensing are improving efficiency and sustainability.”

Conference keynote speakers are:

Nevin Rosaasen: Alberta Pulse Growers policy and programs specialist, Canada, on pulse trading and marketing;

Judith Burstin: UMR Agroecology director of research, INRA Dijon, France, on genomics in pulse breeding;

Phil McFarlane: EAT Group and Australian Plant Proteins founder and director, on opportunities for pulses in the human diet;

Pablo J. Zarco-Tejada: University of Melbourne professor and HyperSens Laboratory leader on remote sensing and other technologies in pulse-cropping systems;

The conference dinner speaker is Anthony Saliba, professor of conceptual psychology at Charles Sturt University.

Pakistan presence

AWAM Group CEO and Pakistan Pulses Importers Association president Muhammad Ahmed said the first Pakistani delegation to attend an Australian pulse conference is keen to gain an insight into how one of its major suppliers produced and marketed its crops.

Muhammad Ahmed

“Our aim is to learn about current crop-production estimates, and to understand grower sentiments regarding market prices going forward…and to meet exporters to refresh contacts and market ideas,” Mr Ahmed said.

AWAM Group is an agent for most of Australia’s major exporters of pulses to Pakistan, and also imports pulses directly.

Mr Ahmed will be providing an outlook on Pakistan’s pulse production and markets in his address at APC2019.

“We regularly import lentils and chickpeas from Australia, which we process further in our factories in Karachi.”

With India largely closed to imports of pulses as it focuses on consuming its own crop, markets including Pakistan have taken on increased importance for Australian exporters in recent times.

Mr Ahmed said Pakistan was an importer of chickpeas from Myanmar, Russia and Tanzania as well as Australia, and its crop harvested earlier this year and totaling about 350,000 tonnes would fall well short of annual demand at 600,000-650,000t.

“Because of the cheaper price of kabuli chickpeas, we foresee a shift in demand for about 100,000t from desi chickpeas to kabuli chickpeas.”

Around the states

Australia has three major desi chickpea-growing areas: Central Queensland (CQ), southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, with CQ the only one not severely impacted by drought.

Victoria is a significant producer of kabuli and desi chickpeas, as well as faba beans, field peas, lentils and lupins, and is a major hub for processing and packing pulses for domestic and export markets.

The inaugural Australian pulse conference was held in Tahlee, South Australia, in 2013, and the previous conference was held in Tamworth, NSW, in 2016.



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