Welcome to the International Year of Pulses
I know, I know… we’re already almost done with 2016. But I just found out! I’m totally into agricultural commodities, so I feel like I should have known WAY sooner that this is the year to talk about and celebrate “Beans: The Magical Fruit.”
“The UN General Assembly declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP) with the aim to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as a part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.”
Pulses are under-recognized for their value and importance in crop diversification and sustainable agriculture.
They are critical to both farmers and consumers all over the world!
“Dryland pulses like CHICKPEA and PIGEONPEA contribute towards the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to reduce poverty and hunger, improve health and gender equity, promote responsible consumption and help adapt to climate change.”
“Beans, lentils, and other pulses are both cheap and nutritious, and they play an important role in nurturing soil.”
VOTE: BEANS 4 CHANGE!!!
BEANS can save the planet. No joke.
People are very excited about the 4th Industrial Revolution. YAY! Drones, Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Self-Driving Cars, Virtual Reality, Agricultural Technology (Agtech)… It’s the invention and innovation that people want to talk about.
But often forgotten is the fact that EVERY Industrial Revolution is book-ended by innovation AND disruption.
CHANGE… it’s happening RIGHT NOW. The Fourth Industrial Revolution isn’t coming… it’s already here.
Climate Change is a MASSIVE #4IR issue bringing themes to the foreground including:
- Sustainable agriculture and improved agronomics: improved carbon footprint and green fertilizers
- Agricultural technology (agtech): seed biotech, precision agriculture via drones, microbials, and more…
- Food and Water (in)security: growing populations in food and water resource poor countries (Emerging Markets) leading to large-scale malnutrition
- Sustainable proteins: cow farts are ruining our ozone!!! Scientists are now exploring methane-collecting backpacks for cows. Ridiculous.
Super Bean to the Rescue!!!
Not that Bean… this Bean!
WE NEED BEANS!
- Good for You
- Good for the Planet
- Good for Farmers
Beans are Good for You…
“Poverty and the lack of access to food are some of the greatest causes of strife around the word,” Widders said. “Legumes can address both of these issues because they are nutritious and profitable to produce. We want to improve the livelihood of individuals by alleviating hunger and poverty.”
Pulse crops such as lentils, beans, pigeonpea and chickpea are a critical part of the general food basket.
“All pulses are deeply sustaining—they’re rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients, such as folate, potassium, iron, and protective phytochemicals. They’re low in fat, and they contain low-glycemic carbohydrates, which your body digests more slowly and without spikes in blood sugar. In short, they help you stay fuller longer.”
Pulses are an important source of plant-based protein and amino acids, micronutrients and fiber. As part of a healthy diet they help address obesity, gastrointestinal diseases, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
In addition, the high iron, manganese and zinc content helps counter iron deficiency anemia – a serious health issue worldwide in women and children.
Pulses are among the best sources of plant protein on the planet.
This is a good thing for vegetarians, vegans, or folks who simply want to cut back on meat and/or seafood.
Beans are Good for the Planet…
“Pulses make a positive contribution in reducing release of greenhouse gases.”
Smaller water and carbon footprint: Efficient use of water
Highly water efficient, pulses are smart crops that grow in drought prone areas. They improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen and promoting soil microbe diversity. That’s pretty cool.
In addition, Pulse crops provide green manure through leaf droppings and help conserve top soil. Less fertilizer needed as a result = lowered carbon footprint.
Beans are Good for Farmers…
“Pulses can better withstand climate change thus reducing risk for the smallholder farmer.”
Resilience, diverse use brings in extra income:
- Survives weather fluctuations: Chickpea can thrive in desert-like regions; pigeonpea crops hit by unseasonal rain have potential for a second flush.
- Diverse food basket and extra income: As an intercrop with cereals and other crops, pulses bring in extra income for farmers and also increase the yield of the main crop.
- Diversified uses: Protein-rich pigeonpea leaves and forage are good fodder. Stalks are used for fencing, thatching, making baskets and as fuel. Calorific value of stalks is about half that of the same weight of coal.
The pulses, pigeonpea and chickpea, in addition to groundnut, millets, sorghum and even the common bean are massively important to global food systems.
The protein power of pulses and other legumes has life-or-death consequences in parts of the world where scratching a living out of the land is near impossible. This is especially the case in Climate Change at-risk areas such as Africa and Asia.
Plant breeders and farmers around the world are working to improve both the drought-tolerance genes and the nutritional content of legumes…
But until the over-meat-eaters of the world (and I’m not exempt here) change our habits and take an active role in promoting the Amazing Bean, I’m not sure the legume will get the place it truly deserves in this Green Revolution.
After all, people don’t like change… until they have to.
So this year, let’s be proactive: Let’s research, talk about, and promote the BENEFICIAL disruption that legumes can bring so that pulses can participate in the agtech innovation occurring right now.
Beans can fight Climate Change, but only if we let them.
VOTE: BEANS 4 CHANGE!!!
Thanks for reading!
Join me next time as I continue to explore the amazing Legume!
- BBSRC: BioScience for the Future
- NSAC’S BLOG
- Pest Management in Grain Legumes: Potential and Limitations
- New Phytologist
- Emerging genomic tools for legume breeding: current status and future prospects
- Catch the Pulse
- Global Pulse Confederation
- Dryland cereal and legume priority farming systems worldwide
- Translational Genomics in Agriculture
- Pulses Handbook 2016
- Breeding Annual Grain Legumes for Sustainable Agriculture
- Legumes in Sustainable Agriculture
- Legumes: the Solution to Human Health and Agricultural Sustainability
- Can legumes solve environmental issues?
- Legumes give nitrogen-supplying bacteria special access pass
- Introduction to Legumes (links to all articles by same author)
- These Plants Are the Pulse of Sustainable Farming and Healthy Eating
- Can We Improve the Nutritional Quality of Legume Seeds?
- Legume Innovation Lab
- Use of grain legumes residues as livestock feed in the smallholder mixed crop-livestock production systems in Ethiopia
- Finding niches for legumes in smallholder farming systems
- Innovations in agronomy for food legumes