Kabuli acres likely to fall as supply tightens

Source: www.producer.com

Chickpea prices are projected to increase as supplies come down, but other crops are expected to steal acres this spring

Importers of kabuli chickpeas will have a tough time finding adequate supply of the crop in 2021-22, says a panel of experts.

“We are certainly seeing a bullish scenario across the world for the kabuli chickpea crop,” Rajat Sarda, managing director of Rajat Agro, said during the India Pulses and Grains Association’s recent National Pulses Seminar.

Canada is the one exporter that will be going into the 2021-22 season with a sizeable stockpile of the crop.

Stat Publishing is forecasting 206,000 tonnes of kabuli carryout.

“That’s a good year’s production in Canada,” said Jeff Van Pevenage, president of Columbia Grain International.

Canadian acreage and production are expected to fall in 2021-22. Stat Publishing is forecasting 164,000 tonnes of production, a 23 percent drop from last year.

Van Pevenage expects Canada to “grind through” its inventories over the next 18 months and that prices will move higher as supplies come down.

Stat Publishing is forecasting a paltry 16,000 tonnes of 2020-21 kabuli carryout in the United States.

However, it is forecasting 373,800 acres of the crop in 2021-22 and 256,060 tonnes of production, a 45 percent increase over last year.

Van Pevenage doesn’t think the 2020-21 carryout will be that tight. On the other hand, he expects much smaller 2021-22 acres and production, forecasting 300,000 acres and 200,000 tonnes.

That is because crops like wheat, corn, soybeans and flax all look more attractive than chickpeas.

He also anticipates a shift to larger size kabulis with farmers growing more of the 10 to 12 millimetre varieties.

U.S. carryout will be negligible.

Mexico is expected to plant 163,000 acres of the crop, a 19 percent drop. That will result in reduced production and the smallest export program in years.

“There’s a good chance that they’re going to also be completely sold out of chickpeas by this time next year,” he said.

Van Pevenage thinks the looming tight supply situation will result in a US$100 per tonne increase in North American export values over the next six to eight months.

Sarda said there was a significant drop in India’s kabuli chickpea acres this winter due to low prices and farmers switching to desi chickpeas and wheat because the government offers minimum support prices for those two alternatives.

The upshot is that 2021 production will fall to 225,000 tonnes, an 18 percent drop from last year and well below the 2017 high of 775,000 tonnes.

“I believe this is the (smallest) crop we’ve seen in a decade or so,” he said.

India will export 85,000 tonnes of kabulis in 2020-21, down from 140,000 tonnes the previous year.

Sarda said supplies will be so low in 2021-22 that India may be forced to import some small-sized kabulis, which is unusual. There is a potential for prices to set a record in India.

Matias Maccera, trading manager of Desdelsur S.A., said Argentina had a disastrous crop. Farmers harvested an estimated 52,000 tonnes in December, down from 150,000 tonnes the previous year.

The country will likely only export 6,900 tonnes, down from 165,000 tonnes the previous year. Carryout will be zero.

“We’re expecting a bullish market,” he said.

Jonathan Grange, partner with Sunstone Brokers, said Russian carryout from the 2020-21 crop is expected to be 49,000 tonnes, which is less than half of the previous two years.

The challenge is going to be attracting acres in 2021-22 due to stiff competition from yellow peas, which are cheaper and safer to grow.

He said there is a “serious risk” that kabuli acreage will be unchanged or lower.

Grange anticipates Russia will have a reduced export program of around 200,000 tonnes in 2021-22, down from 230,000 tonnes this year. But there is a potential it could be significantly less than that.

“Unfortunately we’re all talking about the same thing. The challenge is the farmer and what he has got as alternatives to grow,” he said.