AUSTRALIA exported 27,251 tonnes of chickpeas in June, up 10 per cent from the May total of 24,719t, with increased demand from Pakistan largely behind the lift, according to the latest export data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Australia shipped 8064t of chickpeas to Pakistan in June, only 399t less than shipments to Bangladesh, which has been Australia’s biggest market in recent months.
The third-biggest market for June on 4991t was the United Arab Emirates, followed by Nepal on 2548t.
All four markets have increased their significance as India, traditionally Australia’s biggest market, keeps its door closed to volume pulse imports while it focuses buying attention on its large domestic crop.
ADM pulse trading manager Rob Brealey said increased buying from Pakistan was not unusual in the June-shipment period after the conclusion of its own harvest.
“It’s just usual demand, and cheaper prices from Australia are helping,” Mr Brealey said.
Since April, a small amount of chickpeas has been shipped to India each month.
Mr Brealey said they were destined for free-trade zones such as Mundra, where they could be processed for re-export, but could not be accessed by the domestic market.
CQ in good shape
Central Queensland (CQ), southern Queensland and northern New South Wales are Australia’s three major desi chickpea-growing areas.
ABARES’ most recent forecast estimated new-crop production estimate at 123,000t from 100,000ha in NSW, up from 22,000t from 22,000ha last year.
This figure is expected to be slashed in ABARES next crop report in September, while the Queensland figure of 198,000t from 180,000ha, is forecast to be reduced to a maximum 150,000t.
Supporting the outlook for Queensland are the largely good conditions in CQ, which have offset reduced area in southern Queensland caused by a lack of timely planting rain on most paddocks.
“All the reports say the crop in CQ’s in great shape. Earlier in the week there was a little bit of a concern about the crop.
“In the northern highlands of CQ, the topsoil is getting dry, but chickpeas have that long taproot and they’ve got their feet in moisture so they should be okay.”
An increased area of chickpeas has been planted in South Australia, southern NSW and Victoria this year, but has risen from a very small base.
“There’s certainly an increase in plantings in the south, but in the overall scheme of things, it won’t have much of an impact on the market.”
Mr Brealey said prices for current-crop and old-crop chickpeas had weakened in the past four to six weeks, and were sitting at around $650/t NTP.
“The market seems fairly stable now, and offshore buyers and the trade are waiting for harvest.”
Mr Brealey said any chickpeas still unsold from last year and the 2017 harvest were likely to go into dhal production, while new-crop CQ peas were likely to be consumed in the whole-eating markets like Bangladesh.
Most CQ growers last month finished harvesting their sorghum, which has sold at good prices, and they are seen as being in no rush to forward price chickpeas, particular with frost risk still of minor concern.
“I don’t believe there’s been any forward selling at this point, and I don’t believe the trade has forward sold anything offshore of significance.
“The whole market is sitting and waiting for harvest and then we’ll see where we’re at.”
Table 1: ABS monthly chickpea export data for January to June 2019
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