Australian malt barley may hit Indian market this year

Australian malt barley may hit Indian market this year

Representative image. (Getty images)

Australian malt barley could enter the Indian market this year after New Delhi removed a phytosanitary requirement of treating the grain with methyl bromide that acted as a roadblock to its sales into the country.

India has changed a requirement of treating the grain with methyl bromide which reportedly reduced the grain seed viability making malt barley useless.

The new changes will mean barley can be fumigated with phosphine in accordance with Australian standards.

"We have been in talks with one business who has said they have negotiations in place to sell 60,000 tonnes of malt barley to India, contingent on the right protocols being in place," Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman Andrew Weidemann said.

"The team at the Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre (AEGIC) have also been fantastic in raising the profile of Aussie barley in India and helping us develop an understanding of the Indian malt sector," he was quoted as saying in the media here.

It is fantastic to diversify into new markets, China is always going to be important to us but India presents some "fantastic opportunities," Weidemann said.

He said the immediate market would be for malt barley, but it could further lead to other products like feed barley.

"The Indian feed industry is probably still relatively small but with the scope of growth in all sectors there you would expect it to grow," Weidemann said.

Grains Industry Market Access Forum (GIMAF) executive manager Tony Russell said the Indian government's decision was a triumph for a united industry approach.

Russell said there were still strict phytosanitary requirements that must be adhered to by exporters, particularly on weed seeds.

"They will be very stringent on weed seeds and have concerns about wild radish and Italian ryegrass. It is something that can be managed through the supply chain, however, it may initially mean that exports come out of regions that do not have big problems with these weeds," Russell said.

"There has been a lot of hard work going into this, from the guys at the Department of Agriculture to our agricultural counsellor in New Delhi Nora Galway who worked tirelessly to get it through," Russell added.

Western Australia and South Australia are the major two export states for barley. However, Western Australia, which has regions with heavy infestations of wild radish may have more trouble initially assuring a radish-free product.

India has previously bought malt barley from countries like Canada and Argentina.

Canada does not have the issues with grain storage pests like Australia as the grain is stored in cold conditions which means treatments are not required.

Last October, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare Joint Secretary Atish Chandra visited Australia for the India-Australia Plant Health Technical Bilateral Meeting 2019 along with other quarantine and state officials.

According to GIMAF, the visiting officials were shown Australia's pest surveillance and export management systems from farm to port.

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