Queensland farmers are set to plant even more chickpeas in 2017 as high prices and recent good rains align.
Chickpeas have been considered a mainstream crop for Queensland farmers for several years. But they are now passing wheat and sorghum as the preferred crop, quickly becoming the major income driver for farmers.
Brisbane chickpea prices jumped by $60 a tonne to $1050 last week and are now up more than $200 in the past month.
Indian importers are still actively seeking more Australian chickpeas, despite a substantially larger domestic harvest than last season’s poor crop. Pulse analysts are saying India’s 2017 chickpea harvest will be up by around a quarter on last year to more than 9 million tonnes.
Exporters are eagerly trying to secure more chickpeas to meet Indian’s rapidly growing demand for imports. Australia has already exported close to one million tonnes of chickpeas to India from last season’s harvest. ABS exports data shows that around 950,000 tonnes of Australian chickpeas has been shipped to India October to February. A further 325,000 tonnes have been exported to Pakistan and more than 60,000 tonnes to Bangladesh in the same period.
Last week Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the strong demand for Queensland chickpeas from the subcontinent countries had helped the state post its best exports result of $53 billion last year.
Good March rainfall provided the ideal start for another huge planting of chickpeas.
Last year Queensland farmers planted 475,000 hectares of chickpea in 2016, making it the second large crop by area to wheat. But with new season’s chickpea prices approaching $1,000 a tonne delivered Brisbane, which is close to four times the price of wheat, farmers are expected to allocate more area to the pulse crop this year.
Queensland grain prices edged higher last week. Sorghum was $2 higher at $240 delivered Darling Downs markets and stockfeed wheat was $3 higher at $235.
India has also proved a key market for Australian wheat in recent months. There were reports that India bought a further 150,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes of Australian wheat in the past week or so.
A recent 10 per cent import duty does not appear to have stopped appeared to have stopped the flow of wheat imports. Traders are saying that imported wheat remains competitive into the southern states.
Australia has already exported 1.75 million tonnes of wheat to India since October last year, making it one of the largest destinations from last year’s record crop, and this figure continues to grow.
A record large grain export pace from Australia is testing the some of the aging infrastructure. This is certainly the case with grain rail network, where trains are struggling to keep up with the shipping pace out of NSW ports.
There were 2.37 million tonnes of wheat were exported from Australian in February following the record large 2.5 million tonnes shipped in January. Barley exports are also running hot, with a record 1.1 million tonnes shipped in February, topping the 1.0 million tonnes in January.