RISING demand for lentils from around the world has helped push this year’s South Australian lentil crop to a record 189,000 tonnes worth close to $250 million.
The latest Australian Crop Report made the optimistic lentil forecast yesterday with South Australia expected to produce well over half the nation’s lentil crop.
With the lentil harvest all but complete, the lentil crop is expected to reach a record value worth about 20 per cent more than last year’s crop due to a larger crop and a sharp jump in prices to between $1230 a tonne to $1470t.
Glencore Grain’s South Australian accumulation manager Benn Oliver said South Australian lentil prices are at record highs due to various global supply and demand factors.
Mr Oliver said India, a major producer and consumer of lentils, had poor production for its winter and summer crops last year due to low rainfall, while Canada, the world’s largest lentil exporter of lentils and Australia, have both had lower production this year.
“The Middle East region, normally a net exporter, has become a net importer due to the ongoing conflict in Syria,” Mr Oliver said.
“The lower production in India is leading to greater import demand in the Indian subcontinent.
“Australia is in a position to meet some of this demand, assisted by the lower Australian dollar.”
“We play an important role in connecting South Australian commodities with customers all over the world, in the process offer competitive prices to growers across the State,” he said.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Crop Report predicts the total SA grain crop will reach 7.2 million tonnes, five per cent lower than the previous year as production of wheat, barley and canola declines.
Lentil producers such as Arthurton farmer Paul Correll are enjoying one of their better seasons as lentils have become the third largest crop on Yorke Peninsula, making it one of the few regions in the world where lentils are so important.
The bureau’s executive director Karen Schneider said despite difficult seasonal conditions, it expects a small increase in production compared with last season.
“Total Australian winter crop production is forecast to increase by two per cent in 2015—16 to 39.1 million tonnes,” Ms Schneider said.
“This is despite below average rainfall in many cropping regions during early spring and above average daytime temperatures in southern Australia.”
National wheat production is forecast to rise by 1pc to 24 million tonnes, barley production by 2pc to 8.2 million tonnes, while canola production drops by 14pc to 3 million tonnes.