Australia's chickpea harvest has kicked off but prices have continued their downward trend with the market dropping by about 30 per cent in the past three months.

Dry weather and frost have meant crop forecasts have also had to be revised down.

Rob Brealey from trading company Pentag Nidera says there's a number of factors affecting the trade.

"One is the supply of peas globally has responded to the high prices in the past few years, farmers everywhere are producing more pulses."

"The most noticeable is in the sub-continent, Pakistan which is normally the second largest importer have imported nothing in the past six month because of a very large crop of their own."

India has also produced much larger chickpea crop that expected.

The depreciation of the Indian rupee has also seen the cost of imports has gone up and impacted on the Indian consumer's ability to pay.

Dry weather means the Australian chickpea crop will drop from the 800,000 tonnes produced last year to about 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes this year.

However the lower supply is unlikely to help much given virtually the entire chickpea crop is exported and at the moment there is very low demand.

The tumultuous chickpea markets has seen buyers pull out of the market.

"The key issue now is that a number of buyers have withdrawn from the market in terms of buying chickpeas, most noticeable being Cargill."

"I think those of us that are left in the market will take a much more conservative approach to selling peas offshore as well as carrying peas here in Australia against potential demand."

"So all of that means that the days of the trade stepping up and buying the crop at harvest time are behind us."

Chickpea producers in Central Queensland have well and truly kicked off harvest with the dry weather causing some header fires.

Further south and farmers west of Goondiwindi have also started harvesting.

John Penfold from south west of Meandarra on Queensland's Western Downs says the crops are all coming in early due to the dry weather.

"At this stage we'll probably store what we can and warehouse the rest."

"The price a while ago when you might have been looking to forward contract a lot of buyers weren't quoting."

"There's been a bit of buying lately but the price is well down and I think it will probably go down further before it picks up."

 

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