Pulse funding welcome in face of Indian tariff: Stewart

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart says the federal injection of more than half a million dollars to find new pulse markets is welcome in the face of India’s tariffs and a large carryover.

His federal counterpart, Lawrence MacAulay, announced $575,000 for three projects for Pulse Canada at the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers regional meeting in Regina last week.

Two of the projects are from the AgriMarketing program under Growing Forward 2. They include $178,500 to find new markets for pulses and ingredients in China, eastern Asia, the United States and Canada, and $221,680 for a project that promotes pulses to Canadian food service companies.

The third investment of $175,721 is from AgriInnovation and is targeted at pulse innovation in the Chinese market to expand the use of pulses and look at the health benefits of pulse snacks.

Stewart said the announcement is timely.

“We’re sitting on a pretty good crop of lentils and peas this year, very top quality, that we’re not going to be able to market by the look of it, a lot of it anyway,” he told reporters.

He said India’s imposition of import tariffs and fumigation requirements both stem from oversupply.

“India is our biggest market by far and we, up until this last year, have been their largest supplier,” Stewart said. “Half a million dollars right now to try to find some new markets would be helpful.”

MacAulay said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would raise Canadian concerns when he meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a Feb. 17-23 trade mission.

He said a number of ministers have been working on the file to try to resolve the issues.

“What we want to do is establish, with good friendship, a fair trading system with the Indian government,” he said. “We have had that over the years, with some difficulties but it’s worked, but for the last few months it has not been good.”

The fumigation requirement for a pest that Canada doesn’t have and using a chemical that doesn’t work in cold weather is not a science-based decision.

MacAulay said some countries are not as open to science-based solutions as others.

“If you have a science-based (decision) instead of a politically based decision, it’s fair,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to push. Are we there worldwide? We certainly are not.”

He added while Canada can’t tell other governments what to do, it’s clear that the Indian population is expanding and will need protein. Canada can and should be that supplier, he said.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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