10 November 2022

First in-transit phosphine fumigated Australian lentils land in India

The first shipment of Australian lentils under the in-transit phosphine fumigation trial arrived in India on 5 November 2022.

Under the trial, Australia will export 10 shipments of in-transit phosphine-treated Australian grains and pulses to India.

Australia already uses phosphine fumigation as a quarantine treatment for exports of:

  • wheat to Sri Lanka and Pakistan
  • grains and pulses to Bangladesh.

Implications for Australian exporters

In-transit phosphine fumigation is the preferred treatment method for Australian grain and pulse exporters. 

The success of these trials may lead to the approval of in-transit phosphine fumigation application as an equivalent quarantine treatment to India’s current mandatory methyl bromide fumigation protocol.

The increasing availability of phosphine treatment across the South Asia region increases flexibility for Australian exporters. It may allow the same vessel to be used for shipments to multiple countries.

About phosphine fumigation

Phosphine fumigation is a chemical treatment. It is used worldwide to protect grains, pulses and oilseeds from insect and pest contamination during storage. Industry and importers prefer phosphine treatment because it leaves negligible chemical residue and does not damage the grain.

Australia is a world leader in phosphine fumigation technology and safety. Australia exports phosphine-treated grains and pulses around the world.

About in-transit phosphine fumigation

In-transit treatment removes the need for grain to be treated onshore for 7–10 days. In-transit treatment also reduces congestion at ports, where grain is traditionally stored during fumigation.

Taken together, in-transit phosphine fumigation reduces costs for Australian exporters. It can also potentially improve the quality of product for Indian importers.

Overview of the Indian lentil market

India is one of the world’s largest consumers and importers of lentils (see Figure 1). Canada and Australia are India’s main sources of lentil imports.

Figure 1: World lentil imports by country

Stacked bar chart showing lentil imports by selected countries

India recently extended the zero tariff rate on lentils until 31 March 2023. This rate applies to all countries except the United States.

In 2021–22, good seasonal conditions returned to Australia. This, along with reduced Indian tariffs, led to a resurgence in trade (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Australian lentil exports by country (2016–17 to 2021–22)

Stacked bar chart showing Figure 2: Australian lentil exports by country by year

There is likely to be more opportunities to export lentils to India in 2022–23 thanks to:

  • high Australian pulse production
  • ongoing tariff reductions
  • the potential for improved treatment options.


The Manual of Importing Country Requirements has details of India’s import requirements for lentils.

The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, are available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

Trade and investment opportunities with India

The Australia-India Business Exchange (AIBX) helps boost trade and investment between India and Australia.