Thursday, January 14, 2016

The International Year of Pulses

By Bob Aston
Pulses are important food crops as they contribute to food security at all levels, have high nutritional value, have important health benefits as they prevent chronic diseases and obesity, they foster sustainable agriculture and contribute to climate change mitigation.
Despite the various benefits of pulses, their consumption remains low. Communities have little knowledge of the nutritional value of pulses and their ability to contribute to food security.
In recognition of the importance of pulses, the 68th United Nations (UN) general Assembly declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. The aim of this is to position pulses as a primary source of protein and other essential nutrients.
The Year will create a unique opportunity to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would better utilize pulse-based proteins, further global production of pulses, and better utilize crop rotations.
International Year of Pulses will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional, and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by pulse farmers.
International Year of Pulses logo
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), pulses are a type of leguminous crop that are harvested solely for the dry seed. They include all kinds of dried beans such as kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and broad beans as well as chickpeas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas, pigeon peas and lentils.
Some of the key objectives of the International Year of Pulses include: promoting the value and utilization of pulses throughout the food system; and raising awareness about the benefits of pulses including sustainable agriculture and nutrition.
Others include: encouraging connections to further global production; fostering enhanced research; advocating for better utilization of pulses in crop rotations; and addressing the challenges in the trade of pulses.
The International Year of Pulses provides an opportunity for communities to learn about nitrogen fixing properties of pulses, their high fibre content and protein content, high vitamins, minerals and amino acid content.
Ng’arua Maarifa Centre through Laikipia Rural Voices will take an active role in increasing awareness of the nutritional value of pulses demand, utilization, and production throughout the year.
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