A hungry China is a sure bet for good business for many developed countries as the Chinese foreign exchange holdings are very high sufficient to pay for import of goods required by the population there. USA and Canada are two countries which produce lot of excess agriculture crops including food which are more than that required by their population. Interestingly pulses are never a significant part of neither American nor Canadian diets but still commodities like dry peas and Lentils are produced in these two countries most of which need to be exported. Chinese is also not a legume consuming country and the recent agreement for China to import legumes from Canada is therefore surprising. Here is a take on this new bon homie between Canada and China.
"We've been told China is a hungry country looking for partners to help feed it. Canada, a country heavily dependent on exports, is emerging as an important player in this quest. China has the ways and means to pay its bills, and represents a superb opportunity for North American farmers. It's becoming increasingly aggressive in wanting to sign food-related deals with the western world. Although it claims to be about 95 per cent self-sufficient in grains, its agricultural trade deficit grew by almost 50 per cent last year, as its population grows interested in an increasingly varied and healthy menu. Among its new interests are pulses — peas and lentils among them, which despite having been around forever are becoming renowned for their exceptional nutritional benefits. Canadian farmers grow the world's best pulses, and last year Pulse Canada, the progressively minded commodity group representing these crops, began collaborating with the Chinese Cereals and Oils Association to pursue new product development using pulses. Pulse Canada says Canadian and Chinese researchers are now working together to introduce pulses into Chinese staple foods such as noodles, steamed breads and dumplings, as well as snack foods and meat products. Last week, Canada and China signed a new memorandum of agreement — in which education, agriculture, science and technology were specifically mentioned — to increase the connection between the two countries, opening even more doors for development as the two countries drive toward a potential free-trade agreement. At the signing of the memorandum, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the rapidly increasing commercial, cultural and scholastic ties between our two countries are creating new jobs and economic growth. Indeed, this is a hot market and a growth area that Canada does not want to miss."
One is reminded of the historic attempts in the past by the US in expanding wheat consumption in Asian countries like Korea so that the surplus wheat production can be exported to these countries. Organizations like the Wheat Associates were conspicuous by their promotional activities in countries like India till recently and to day wheat has become a standard item in the menu of many erstwhile rice eating nations. Same is happening in legumes also and the presence of agencies representing the growers in the US and Canada are working over time to find markets for their pulses in these places. The unfortunate aspect of this development is that the imported pulses compete directly with domestic produce and with heavy subsidies received by the farmers in these countries the market price for the imported pulses are invariably much less than that of the local produce. China may well aware of these implications while operationalizing the bilateral agreement.