Australia to help India become a pulses-processing hub

By TheHindu on 27 Aug 2017

Australia is learnt to be exploring ways to help India transform into a 'pulses-processing hub'. Towards this objective, the Australian government and that country’s agri-business companies will hold talks with the Government of India and Indian companies including those into processing, retail and imports of pulses, on the sidelines of the 'Australia Business Week in India' (ABWI), sources close to the development told The Hindu.

The ABWI is slated to be held from August 28 to September 1 with an aim to “promote Australian capability and expand Australia’s trade, investment and education relationships.” During the event, Australian agri-business firms will be given the latest information regarding the Indian pulses market including the trends in demand. They will also be provided the details of opportunities available in India that Australian firms can take advantage of using their expertise in food grain production and processing as well as in methods to improve productivity, nutritional value and packaging. The idea also is to attract Australian investments into India in processing of these items.

The ABWI is likely to see the participation of Grain Growers (a ‘grain farmer representative organisation with 17,500 members across Australia’), Grain Trade Australia (an organization aiming to ‘ensure efficient facilitation of commercial activities across the grain supply chain’), GrainCorp Limited (a ‘listed public company with business in production, storage and processing of grain and related commodities, as well as providing logistics, testing and marketing services for these commodities’), Southern Cross Agricultural Exports (which ‘certifies sustainably grown agricultural produce and processing plants’) and Special One Grain (‘an Australian grain marketer major’).

The Indian agriculture and farmers welfare ministry had informed Parliament in February that production of pulses in the country was affected in 2014-15 and 2015-16 due to drought. It said the major initiatives undertaken for increasing pulses production include increased allocation of funds from total allocation of 'National Food Security Mission' (NFSM) for 'NFSM-Pulses', as well as ensuring additional area coverage under cultivation of pulses and creation of pulses seed hubs. The ministry informed Parliament in July that "150 pulses seed hubs" have been "established" to produce quality seeds of important pulse crops, as per a government statement. Also, production of additional quantity of breeder seed of different pulses was undertaken to attain self-sufficiency in pulses, it stated. According to an April 2016 report by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (or ICRISAT -- an international non-profit body doing scientific research for development), “India is the largest producer (18.2 million tons), consumer (over 22 million tons) and importer (3-5 million tons per year) of pulses. The current initiative is an effort to bridge this gap.” It further said, “The target set for (pulses) production is 23.5 million tons by 2020 and 27.5 million tons by 2025, while the target for average yield has been set at 900 kg per ha by 2020 and 1,000 kg per ha by 2025 against the current average yield of 750 kg per ha. The area under pulse crops is targeted to reach 26 million ha by 2020 and 27.5 million ha by 2025, against the current area of 24 million ha.”