India’s sudden change in import of bean and pulse quota leaves Myanmar farmers confused

While India has released new quotas over import of pigeon peas from Myanmar, changing policies are still keeping farmers in Myanmar confused and uncertain of their future.

This step was taken by India over import quotas on Myanmar pulses and beans following a temporary import ban on the crops since August 2017.

India had decided to import 200,000 tonnes of pigeon peas in 2018-19 from Myanmar, according to its government’s latest announcement in May this year. It will also import 150,000 tonnes each of mung beans and black beans over the same period, according to an earlier announcement.

“India imports mung beans only from Myanmar, so we are able to enjoy the whole quota limit of 150,000 tonnes. But we will be competing with Africa for the 200,000 tonnes of pigeon pea quota limit, so we must ensure competition is fair and the African countries don’t price us out of the market,” said U Min Ko Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Pulses, Beans & Sesame Seeds Merchants Association.

What is most disturbing to the Myanmar farmers is arrival of such news of new import quotas when they were already switching from planting pigeon peas to other crops. This is to avoid being overly reliant on the Indian market.

Whatever the case, the association will continue to advise farmers to slowly transition to planting other crops due to trade instability. In addition, pigeon peas are typically produced in smaller quantities, making it difficult to scale.

News is also coming in that like Canada, Myanmar is also actively seeking new markets to which it can export its other beans and pulses.  This week in fact, the country has already forged an agreement to export larger quantities of beans and pulses to Nepal, with the aim to diversify away from India, currently its biggest buyer.

Uttara is a correspondent with Indoasiancommodities. You can write to her on uttara.malhotra@indoasiancommodities.in.

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