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India Looks Set for a Big Chickpea Crop

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India’s chickpea crop is poised for another bumper year at harvest next month, thanks to last year’s strong monsoon and the country’s relatively cool, dry winter season. This is good news because India, the world’s most populous country, consumes most of the chickpeas it grows. 

India classifies chickpeas, a plant-based protein, as a “food grain”, and chickpeas rank as the fourth most consumed food grain (after rice, wheat, and corn) in India, a country with a sizable vegetarian population. 

Currently, Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, weighted to Indian chickpeas, shows that favorable plant health levels and land surface temperatures have prevailed this growing season, supporting government forecasts for a strong crop. Last year, India’s chickpea production came in at 13.5 million tonnes and 11.4 million hectare acres were planted to chickpeas, according to India’s Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. This year India’s chickpea planted area, though high by historical standards, dipped slightly to 11.2 million hectares. 

For the last five years, the country has harvested more than 12 million tonnes of the 15 million tonnes of chickpeas produced globally each year. Nevertheless, India remains a net importer of chickpeas

This means that its crop’s success often has an outsized impact on global prices and it influences chickpea planting intentions globally, especially after a year of grain volatility due to climate extremes and the Russia-Ukraine war. 

While the war took Russia’s chickpea export contributions off the market, Turkey, the world’s No. 2 chickpea producer, imposed an export ban on chickpeas last year in a bid to ensure its own supplies. Like India, Turkey consumes most of the chickpeas it produces. 

In Australia, the world’s largest chickpea exporter, favorable growing conditions lifted 2022 chickpea production to 1.06 million tonnes of chickpeas when the crop was harvested at the end of the year. But for 2023, ABARES, an Australian government agency, is forecasting a 44% drop in production that would bring the country’s production to 0.594 million tonnes, a production level more in line with historical norms. For Australian growers, India’s import tariff on Australian chickpeas has made planting the legume less economical due to lower export demand.  

Globally, chickpeas are growing in popularity as a high protein, plant-based alternative to meat and a protein-energy ingredient in animal feed.

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