Agriculture and Water Minister David Littleproud will visit India to represent chickpea and lentil growers’ concerns over a 30 per cent tariff on Australian exports.
On December 21 last year India announced without notice a 30 per cent tariff, effective immediately, on chickpeas and lentils entering the country.
Pulses Australia estimates 83,000 tonnes of chickpeas worth $58 million is currently at sea destined for India.
Mr Littleproud said he would take growers concerns to the Indian Government.
“Whist we recognise India is within its rights under the WTO to raise its tariffs, it makes life extremely tough for farmers when the returns change after a crop is planted,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Growers need certainty to make decisions which affect their lives.”
Associated Grain, Dalby, Queensland trading manager Mark Schmidt said chickpeas prices had fallen on the back of the import tariff.
“This changed values from $700 in December back to a current price in the mid $500s in early January,” he said.
Mr Littleproud said he aimed to build on the good work of Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo.
“India is the world's second largest population and is our fifth-largest export market, worth $3.1 billion in agriculture exports in 2016-17. India takes $1.1 billion worth of our chickpeas and another $195 million worth of our lentils,” Mr Littleproud said.
The Indian tariff was followed a fall in prices which would hurt Indian farmers, following a productive season after a run of below average years.
The chickpea and lentil tariff follows a 50pc import tariff on field peas, while smaller tariffs were imposed for other commodities, including wheat and palm oil.
AgForce grains president Wayne Newton praised Mr Littleproud’s initiative and said access to key international markets is vital for Australian agricultural exports.
A 30 per cent import tariff will slash growers' incomes into the future,” he said.
"In contrast to almost all OECD countries, Australia provides no trade distorting measures, little or no subsidies and we rely on a free and open trading environment to ensure ongoing profitability.
"With Australian farmers exporting about three quarters of what we produce, reducing trade distortions in global markets and achieving new export opportunities is critical for the continued growth of our agricultural sector."