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Australia’s April chickpea exports down 35pc from March

by Liz Wells, 11 June 2018

AUSTRALIA’S chickpea exports in April totaled 70,963 tonnes, a 35-per-cent drop from 109,404t shipped in March, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) latest export data.

As India continues to shun imports in the face of its large chickpea harvest, Pakistan on 34,805t and Bangladesh on 27,392t remain Australia’s only volume markets for now.

Third and fourth place for Australia chickpea shipments for April went to the United Arab Emirates on 2726t and Iran with 984t.

Containerised exports to secondary and tertiary markets around the globe are expected to absorb any unpriced tonnage in the months leading up to October, when Australia’s new-crop chickpeas will hit the market.

Rain needed

While some late plantings may take place in Australia’s chickpea-producing areas in Queensland and northern NSW, at least 90pc of the estimated planting area is now in the ground.

AGT Foods Australia chief executive officer, Peter Wilson, said while pockets of the 2018 chickpea crop were in reasonable condition, much of the crop was struggling.

“It doesn’t look very good at all. We need a lot of rain and we need it quickly, but the odds of getting it get lower every day because the three driest months for Queensland are July, August and September,” Mr Wilson said.

“We need way above-average rainfall to get a below-average crop.”

Chickpeas in Queensland and northern NSW have in past years been sown as late as July and still achieved average yields.

“However, that gives them a narrow growing window before the weather gets hot, so we do have potential for more area to go in, but it comes with a risk.”

Smaller crop

Australia is estimated to have produced around 1.2 million tonnes (Mt) of chickpeas in 2017, down from the record 2016 production of 2Mt from a record planted area which received the kindest of growing conditions.

Some 2017 crops picked up yield at the end of their growing season, as late rain sparked a final flowering which allowed more pods to set.

The same could happen to the 2018 crop, but its yield prospects are generally seen as lower than last year’s plantings because of reduced and deeper subsoil moisture.

Based on reduced planted area, and uncertain yield prospects due to limited soil moisture, industry sources believe Australia’s 2018 production could be half the 2017 figure.

“This issue isn’t how we’ll market our chickpeas, it’s what we’ll have to market.”

Destination Feb Mar Apr Total tonnes
Bangladesh 25790 85769 27392 138951
Canada 749 1359 568 2676
Egypt 1172 516 127 1815
Germany 24 0 0 24
Greece 0 0 25 25
India 0 0 1 1
Iran 969 934 984 2887
Israel 529 25 243 797
Italy 146 125 100 371
Japan 21 21 42
Jordan 325 363 554 1242
Korea 42 0 0 42
Lebanon 138 24 129 291
Malaysia 245 288 243 776
Mauritius 122 100 193 415
Nepal 360 0 0 360
Netherlands 48 0 0 48
New Zealand 46 93 31 170
Pakistan 12808 10760 34805 58373
Papua New Guinea 5580 7 1 5588
Poland 0 0 48 48
Portugal 46 500 751 1297
Saudi Arabia 950 1276 608 2834
Singapore 24 24 0 48
South Africa 48 48 50 146
Spain 25 100 25 150
Sri Lanka 126 0 25 151
Taiwan 0 18 0 18
Thailand 7 3 26 36
Turkey 0 465 0 465
UAE 2044 4243 2726 9013
UK 1309 1509 828 3646
USA 1511 784 409 2704
Yemen 69 50 50 169
TONNES 55252 109404 70963 235619

Table 1: Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing Australian chickpea export data for April 2018, with revised March 2018 figures and February 2018 figures.

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