International Year of Pulses 2016 is coming to an end
Since the official launch of the IYP at FAO headquarters on 10 November 2015, the nutritious seeds have become very popular. Indeed, the IYP is arousing a great deal of worldwide interest across a wide range of sectors – from agriculture and trade to health and nutrition.
So far, we have learned how pulses are small but powerful allies thanks to their nutritional and health benefits as well as their positive impact on the environment. With the overall aim to mainstream its key messages, the IYP is supported by a tight schedule of promotional activities.
With more than half a million sessions since its launch, the official IYP website is the virtual landmark of the International Year. News and updates are posted on a daily basis. And a wealth of information material, including factsheets, infographics, posters, videos and educational booklets has been produced and translated into some 20 languages.
Public participation in IYP activities is exceeding expectations. Users have submitted almost 150 events to the official IYP calendar, and pulses-based recipes from more than 30 countries are featured in the recipes section so far. The IYP Blog is a lively platform where people from different fields of expertise - farmers, nutritionists, health professionals, policymakers and home cooks can share their stories on pulses.
Furthermore, a series of events organized by FAO are bringing together stakeholders in the pulses sector. Five IYP regional dialogues took place, stimulating policy dialogue on pulses from a local perspective. Participants highlighted the crucial role of research and development and targeted policies to mainstream pulses.
The results of the regional dialogues will be discussed at the Global Dialogue (GD) on the IYP on 22-23 November at FAO headquarters. The two–day event will bring together a wide spectrum of stakeholders in the sector as well as representatives of each region. The GD will provide a forum to discuss the issues and challenges related to production, consumption and trade of pulses. It will also generate recommendations (in line with SDGs) for concrete action and follow-up beyond 2016.
Finally, the official closing ceremony of the IYP will be held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in early 2017. This will be a unique opportunity to recap the achievements of the year and turn the IYP legacy into a tangible set of activities.
Keeping the focus on grain pulses
22 November 2016, ROME-Consumer awareness of the nutritional and dietary benefits of pulses, the edible seeds of leguminous plants and notably including lentils, chickpeas, cowpeas and many dry beans, remains inadequate and more must be done to promote their role in food systems, FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said today.
Progress has been made thanks to initiatives during 2016, the International Year of Pulses, but "it essential to keep the momentum alive," Semedo told participants in a Global Dialogue held at FAO headquarters.
Known for their relatively high protein content and their particular ability to take nitrogen and fix it in soils, pulses also a fertile building block for other crops as well.
"Pulses should not only be valued for their qualities, but also get the policy attention they deserve," she said.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, and leading sponsorship roles were taken by Pakistan and Turkey. Lentil dahls are a hugely important staple across South Asia, while chickpeas have been found in Neolithic pottery excavated in southeast Anatolia.
"There is much still to do in research on pulses" to make them resilient to environmental stresses and help reduce rural poverty, said Nadeem Rivaz, the Permanent Representative to FAO for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and co-chair of the IYP's steering committee.
Promotion of pulses can help foster inclusive economic growth, and greater attention to pulses is already opening export opportunities for countries such as Ethiopia and Myanmar, said Murat Salim Esenli, Permanent Representative-Designate of the Republic of Turkey to FAO and the other IYP co-chair.
The two-day Global Dialogue event allows for key stakeholders and experts from around the world to review the year's activities, which include the publication of academic papers, advocacy activities and initiative to establish lasting recommendations.
More on Pulses
Promoting the production and consumption of pulses can contribute to key Sustainable Development Goals - especially those regarding nutrition, poverty, soil health and climate change - in what Semedo called a "virtuous socioeconomic cycle" that guarantees food and nutrition security for the whole community.
In Malawi, many farmers have been encouraged to intercrop maize and grain legumes, leading to increased food security and income. In Zambia, local women farmers are now producing nearly half of the pulses found in school meals.
Many pulse types are highly water efficient and suited for dry farming conditions. Growing pulses as a cover crop is a climate-smart technique that improves both farm productivity and resilience, Semedo said. It also improves soil health, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers and thus leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, she added.
Dry beans account for around a third of global pulses production, with dry peas and chickpeas each contributing a further one-sixth of worldwide output. Other important pulses are broad beans, lentils, cowpeas and pigeon pea.
"Pulses offer a lot of opportunities to food diversification, and I call upon the chefs worldwide to explore the rich world of pulses and use their creativity to invent new recipes", said Maggy Habib, FAO's IYP Special Ambassador for the Near East. Around 62 million tonnes of pulses are grown each year, with India by far the largest producer although also a net importer. The value of internationally-traded pulses is around $7 billion, with China, Brazil, Canada, Myanmar and Australia all major contributors.
Keeping the focus on grain pulses
FAO dialogue explores nutritional, environmental and economic virtues of growing lentils and beans