INDIA’S chickpea tariff has lead to some farmers turning away from the crop which has been earning them close to $1000/tonne for the past few years.
On March 1 the Indian government raised the January-imposed tariff of 40 per cent to a whopping 60 per cent – cementing the impact on the Australian market.
After the initial 30 per cent tariff was announced in January the pulse industry was thrown, with India being Australia’s largest market for both chickpeas and lentils.
Jordan Anderson, Avonmore, Theodore, farms 2000 hectares alongside his brother Regan, and this year they planted corn for the first time.
With 205 hectares of the new Pioneer 1813iT (immidazolinone-tolerant) corn planted on what would have been winter chickpea country, Mr Anderson said news of the initial tariff from India quickly swayed them against a chickpea crop.
“We put some residual down because this was actually meant to be chickpeas, but because India threw the tariff on us… we had to readjust a few things,” he said.
With his options to plant being corn, sorghum, cotton, or mungbeans – he said cotton was immediately ruled out because he had already put the herbicide down.
The brothers planted 260 hectares of mungbeans, and when looking at gross margins decided to step out of their comfort zone and plant corn.
”So here are now – it’s our first crack at it and so far we've got a perfect plant stand and hopefully we get a good season out of it,” he said.
AgForce grains president Wayne Newton, Dalby, said despite the Indian government’s tariff rise the Australian market was “remarkably” holding around the $600/tonne mark.
“The next question is what this is going to do for the coming crop – some people are talking about cutting back,” he said.
Mr Newton said in the long run the tariff may not be all negative.
“Certainly there’s been a few growers pushing the chickpea rotations pretty high and running risk of diseases,” he said.
With Australian chickpeas still to be exported to countries such as Bangladesh, Mr Newton said eventually the move may “bite India in the backside one day”.
“They will have to come back to Australia in a lower production year,” he said.
Mr Anderson said despite the chickpea drama, he was stoked to be able to plant a summer crop on the back of four inches of rain.
"The season so far has been an absolute cracker,” he said.
“We were looking as if we were going to miss the third summer crop in five years though because it didn't rain until basically early February.”
The corn is performing well with a 92 per cent establishment and Mr Anderson estimated about 98 per cent of it came up.
There has been some mice and beetle damage, but it was not as bad as the brothers first anticipated.