Canadian pulse officials hope for extension in India fumigation dispute

Canada has two important things going for it when it comes to resolving the pulse import issue with India, say federal officials.

The pest that most concerns India isn’t found in Canada, they said, which negates the need for fumigation.

And, Canada’s systems approach to grain handling and storage mitigates the risks that pests would be present in lentils shipped to Indian customers.

Officials appearing before the House of Commons standing agriculture committee recently said they continue to work with their Indian counterparts. India recently agreed to extend Canada’s exemption to mandatory methyl bromide fumigation until the end of June.

William Anderson, executive director of the plant health and biosecurity directorate at the Can-adian Food Inspection Agency, said Canada has proposed a risk mitigation systems approach in place of fumigation requirements.

This includes existing production and storage practices, elevator inspection and sample inspection certification, plus the benefit of the cold Canadian winter.

But Anderson said technology has also helped make Canada’s case.

“Technological advances have been able to help us in actually identifying that what we thought was a potential pest we were detecting in earlier shipments of pulses was in fact not a pest of concern to India,” he said. “They agreed to that in 2015, so that helped us to start the discussion to work on a system (approach).”

Kris Panday, director general of the market access secretariat in Agriculture Canada, said advocacy efforts are continuing to try to resolve the issue beyond the June 30 expiration of the current exemption.

“I think they’ve identified domestically, on the basis of their own economic factors and food security factors, they need to make these changes,” he said.

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