New-crop chickpea prices strong, but seed short

CNS Canada — Production issues in growing regions have driven chickpea prices higher, one analyst says, but limited seed means Canadian producers may not be able to take advantage of strong new-crop pricing.

“Bottom line, the world is out of chickpeas,” said Colin Young of Midwest Investments.

“As the year progressed everyone was hoping the next origin would bring good supplies and sort of restock.”

Canada’s chickpea production was lower in 2015 at 83,500 tonnes, compared with 123,000 in 2014, and 169,400 in 2013.

Russia, India and Mexico also fell short on production, Young said, while Argentina has had quality issues. “Categorically in every country there’s been a disaster.”

There is no significant chickpea production on the horizon until Turkey harvests in August, which is causing prices to strengthen, he said.

New-crop pricing for the highest quality of Desi chickpeas is about 28.5 to 30 cents per pound, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire, while nine-mm Kabuli chickpea contracts are about 39 to 45 cents per pound.

Many Canadian farmers would like to take advantage of strong pricing, but are limited by the amount of quality seed available, Young said.

“Even though we have the desire to grow more acres, we can’t just because we don’t have high enough quality seed,” he added.

Young predicts Canada’s seeded chickpea area this year will be around 100,000 acres, compared with 115,000 last year.

Statistics Canada is set to release its seeding intentions report on Thursday.

Young expects global production to increase in reaction to higher prices, weather permitting.

“This price hike has happened while there’s enough time to increase,” he said.

“I believe there will be increased production, and the market is going to completely depend on the conditions as the year develops.”

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @jade_markus on Twitter.

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