AUSTRALIA shipped 50,494 tonnes of chickpeas in February, down 9 per cent from 55,569t exported in January, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Continuing the pattern of recent months, Bangladesh was Australia’s biggest customer for chickpeas in February, with Pakistan in second place.
However, this is likely to change as Bangladesh switches its near-term demand to its neighbour, Myanmar, and Pakistani demand prevails.
Pakistan is currently harvesting its own chickpea crop, but sources report food-security concerns related to COVID-19 have kept Pakistan in the market for Australian chickpeas.
According to Pulse Australia’s latest Pulse Guidance Notes, India’s rabi crop which includes chickpeas was approaching harvest after a good growing season with a cool finish and no moisture stress.
However, reports of heavy rain and hailstorms in the early harvest window may have reduced yields significantly.
India’s chickpea crop was forecast at 11.2 million tonnes (Mt) prior to any storm-related losses.
Pulse Australia said an Indian chickpea crop in excess of 10Mt normally indicated minimal imports would be needed.
Last month, Pakistan was on the cusp of starting its chickpea harvest forecast to yield 600,000t.
India has released quotas for some pulses like black matpe, which Australia does not produce in volume, and it is showing interest in processing-grade Australian mungbeans.
Logistics issues caused by India’s COVID-19 lockdown may create some short-term demand for imported pulses.
Table 1: Australian chickpea exports for December 2018 and January and February 2020. Source: ABS