Canadian pulses granted three-month extension to India’s fumigation exemption

Canadian pulse officials have less than three months to reach a long-term agreement with India over fumigation in pulse shipments

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Canadian pulse exports to India have been given the green light, at least for the short term, temporarily heading off fears of higher fumigation charges or being shut out of the country completely.

The federal government announced July 5 that India has granted another exemption to allow Canadian pulse exporters to access that market.

Exports leaving Canada on or before Sept. 30 will not require fumigation in Canada and exporters will not incur a penalty at Indian ports.

“This is good news. It at least tells Canadians what the policy will be,” Pulse Canada CEO Gordon Bacon said in a July 6 interview.

“The extension of the policy is three months, but we really need to focus on trying to get this decision made on what the longer-term policy is well in advance of Sept. 30.

“It is very difficult to plan for sales after Sept. 30 when we really have no idea what the policy will be.”

Other countries, including the United States, have received extensions to the end of December, and Bacon is uncertain why Canada was “singled out” as a country with a shorter extension period.

“Canada was the only country that submitted a detailed alternative to fumigation,” said Bacon. “Perhaps it means that, because we submitted it six months ago, we’re further down the path of having a long-term and permanent solution to what the policy will be for pulse exports from Canada to India.

“That gives us the motivation to use the next three weeks to work with India to get a long-term resolution.”

That timing is “critical” as lentil harvest could begin as early as the first week in August, Bacon added.

“Because it’s the peak shipping period and there are no other supplies of new crop pulses at the same time, other than the United States, it becomes really critical to keep us in the market to get that decision sooner in that three-month extension rather than later,” he said.

“You really have to think that the lead time for a product arriving in India can be six weeks. And that’s if everything goes well. This three-month extension goes by very quickly.”

An announcement out of India on June 29 had also sparked concerns over possible added fees Canadian exporters might incur. The announcement said pulses that were shipped under the exemption but not fumigated would be charged five times the usual fee for fumigation at Indian ports.

“India had last week issued another exemption for another kind of category for fumigation of methyl bromide for pulses entering the country, which did outline that if they want to import pulses with that exception, it would cost; there’d be certain fees associated with it,” Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada spokesperson Oliver Anderson said in early July.

The situation has since been clarified and Canadian pulse exporters will be charged no fumigation fees, Anderson said. “This is without fees.”

India requires methyl bromide fumigation to guard against nematode pests from gaining a foothold in the country. Canada is trying to phase out the use of methyl bromide because it is classified as an ozone-depleting substance and the treatment required by India doesn’t work in cold temperatures.

As well, the nemotode pests India is concerned about don’t exist here and other pests are controlled by Canada’s cold weather, so no fumigation is necessary.

In a release, the federal government said Canada continues to work toward a long-term solution.

India buys about a third of Canadian peas and lentils, worth about $1.1 billion last year.

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