Welcome. The pulses stories blog aims to communicate the importance of pulses in our everyday lives.

Video: Breeding must keep pace with emerging diseases in pulses

12/07/2016

By Dr Mamta Sharma, Senior Scientist – Legumes Pathology, Grain Legumes, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India.

As climate variabilities increase, this has led to a change in the number and types of diseases that afflict pulses. To overcome the onslaught of diseases such as dry root rot in chickpea and phytophthora blight in pigeonpea, it is important to start breeding new varieties. Other gaps such as developing forecast models and ensuring the transfer of technology to poor farmers must also be filled.

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2016 – Ano internacional das leguminosas

01/07/2016

This blog post was written by Francisco Bruno Elias da Silva, poet, xylographer and writer from Juazeiro do Norte, Ceará, Brazil.

O Cordel é a cartilha
Que canta a diversidade
A maior enciclopédia
Da nossa sociedade
E tem mais sabedoria
Que os livros da faculdade.

E aqui na ocasião
Quero versar sobre o tema
Das plantas leguminosas
No qual não vejo dilema
Pois o poeta que é bom
Desata qualquer problema.

Seguindo neste roteiro
Primeiro convém dizer
Que os povos primitivos
Em prol de sobreviver
Aderiam ao nomadismo
Caçando para comer.

Aquela cruel rotina
Depois mudou de figura
Quando o homem descobriu
A ferramenta segura
Pra produzir seu sustento
Por meio da agricultura.

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FAO experience at the Coopérative des Agriculteurs de la Mayenne annual exhibit

23/06/2016

This blog post was written by Dorian Kalamvrezos Navarro, Trade and Markets Division, FAO.

I was invited as FAO speaker at Les Camélies, the annual exhibit of CAM – Coopérative des Agriculteurs de la Mayenne- held on 9, 10 and 12 June in the town of Laval, France. CAM is a cooperative with more than 600 employees and 4500 active members, making it one of the biggest actors of its sector in the Mayenne region.

After my arrival in Laval on Saturday evening, the organizers picked me up the next morning and we drove to the site of the exhibit. Titled ‘The Plate is in the Meadow’, this year’s exhibit aimed not only to showcase the cooperative’s usual supporting services for its members, but also to highlight its contribution to sustainable development. 

As the UN agency facilitating the implementation of the International Year of Pulses (IYP) 2016, FAO was invited to the exhibit in consideration of its contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the site, Mr Ivan Leclerc - President of CAM - received me and took me on a detailed tour of the various stands, reflecting the cooperative’s main activities and areas of focus. The Sustainable Development gazebo quickly sparked my interest. It contained information on the cooperative’s various activities such as recycling, renewables, waste management, and even COP21. Other interesting gazeebos dealt with animal nutrition and chemical analysis of soils. 

From Mr Leclerc’s descriptions, I gathered that CAM is heavily investing in precision agriculture as a way to attain sustainability. The aim is to produce more with less, through research and development. It is possible to feed animals with the most efficient mix of amino acids, for example, or to connect tractors with satellite technology in order to programme the optimal application of seeds and fertilizers for a particular tract of land based on its specific ecological attributes. 

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Video: These are my pulses - Australia

14/06/2016

Simon Tickner is a third generation pulse farmer from Horsham, Victoria, Australia. He farms Faba beans, field peas, and lentils. Simon farms pulses because of their many benefits to the soil and crops on his farm. Excited about the International Year of Pulses, Simon Tickner created a “These Are My Pulses” video to help capture his love for pulse farming. 

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Las leguminosas son las fábricas de alimentos más sostenibles que existen

24/05/2016

This blog post was written by Clarisa Guerra and originally published on Saber Universidad

Manuel Megías, Catedrático de Microbiología en la Universidad de Sevilla, ha dedicado cuatro décadas a investigar molecularmente las relaciones simbióticas de unas bacterias llamadas rizobios con las leguminosas. Los conocimientos generados en su grupo de investigación impulsaron en 2009 la creación de ResBioAgro, una empresa de I+D+i que aporta soluciones biotecnológicas basadas en microorganismos para conseguir una agricultura más eficiente y respetuosa con el medio ambiente, ayudando a los agricultores a que se incrementen las cosechas sin necesidad de aplicar insumos químicos.

¿Cómo benefician las bacterias a las leguminosas?

– Existe un diálogo o comunicación entre unas y otras, “una conversación molecular” que tiene lugar en la rizosfera, que es la parte del suelo inmediata a las raíces de las plantas. Se trata de un intercambio de información entre la planta y la bacteria que inducen la creación de unos órganos simbióticos llamados nódulos donde se produce la fijación del nitrógeno de la atmósfera. Yo siempre digo que las leguminosas son las fábricas de alimentos más sostenibles que existen ya que dan de comer a una parte muy importante de la población mundial y además son responsables del 60 al 80% de la fijación de nitrógeno atmosférico del  planeta, captando nada más y nada menos que unas 140 millones de toneladas al año.

– Sin embargo las leguminosas son grandes desconocidas en este sentido…

La producción mundial de legumbres en 2014 fue superior a 77 millones de toneladas (FAO, 2014). Existen en forma de cultivos y salvajes, las hay que son árboles, arbóreas, forrajeras, herbáceas… ¡hasta 19.400 especies! Sin embargo, este tipo de plantas son unas grandes desconocidas para la sociedad. Si preguntas por sus aspectos beneficiosos todo el mundo te hablará de las bondades de sus frutos, las legumbres, en el contexto alimentario: son una excelente fuente de proteínas de alto valor nutritivo, buena fuente de minerales y vitaminas, aportan antioxidantes y bioactivos como polifenoles, isoflavones… Sin embargo sus ventajas a nivel ecológico no son tan conocidas. Plantar leguminosas ayuda a la regeneración natural de suelos degradados ya que se trata de plantas poco exigentes en nutrientes que conquistan fácilmente esos suelos pobres y a su vez los enriquecen de nitrógeno. Una práctica clásica de la agricultura tradicional consistía en alternar una leguminosa con un cereal (rotación de cultivos), ya que éste consume todo el nitrógeno del suelo mientras que la leguminosa lo incorpora, de manera que si los alternas consigues una agricultura de sostenibilidad. Esta práctica, que realizaban nuestros bisabuelos, se fue olvidando hace 70 años cuando comenzaron a utilizarse fertilizantes químicos de forma indiscriminada.

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Video: These are my pulses - Canada

13/05/2016

Randy Froese, From Manitoba, Canada, is a pulse farmer who farms approximately 5800 acres, 2000 of which are dedicated to cultivating dry edible pulses. Randy farms pulses because they are a low nitrogen using crop which helps improve the farms soil. In the video below, Randy talks about his love for farming pulses. 

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Feeding the Future With Pulse Crops

06/05/2016

This blog story was originally written by Jan Suszkiw, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff, and published in the February 2016 issue of AgResearch Magazine.

The year 2016 has been dubbed the “International Year of Pulses” by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). The goal of the initiative is to heighten consumer awareness of the nutritional and other benefits of pulse crops as well as to marshal the capabilities of agricultural research organizations worldwide in developing new, improved varieties that will further global food security and sustainable agriculture.

Pulses are the dry edible seeds of certain leguminous plants, including dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, and dry beans (such as kidney and navy beans), but not fresh green beans, fresh peas, soybeans, or peanuts.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, “Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions, and cancer; they are also an important source of plant-based protein for animals.”

The Agricultural Research Service has long been a proponent of pulse crops, with one research program—the Dry Bean Project at Prosser, Washington—dating back to 1958 and currently serving growers and other industry members in more than 11 states across the country. Scientists with the agency are also making global contributions, particularly through their participation in the Feed the Future (FtF) Grain Legumes Project, a food security initiative of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Pulses are historically important food crops, and ARS is a leader in developing high-yielding varieties with enhanced nutritional qualities,” says plant geneticist George Vandemark, who leads the agency’s Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Pullman, Washington.

Vandemark’s laboratory is one of several ARS locations across the country whose pulse crop research programs produce improved germplasm and commercial varieties offering better resistance to pests and diseases, greater tolerance to environmental extremes like drought, improved nutritional quality, and other traits benefiting growers, processors, and consumers.

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Video: These are my pulses - Japan

29/04/2016

Osamu Ishikawa is a pulse farmer and chef in Komasato Kunnepu-cho, Hokkaido, Japan. Osamu has been a pulse farmer for over 15 years, with the help of his family. With their nitrogen fixing properties, pulses improve the soils of Osamu’s crops. Osamu Ishikawa was the winner of the “These Are My Pulses” video series, created to promote 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.  

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Growing pulses to generate new income among farmers in Zambia

22/04/2016

This blog post was written by Francisca Badilla, FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

In March 2016, I travelled to Chipata, the capital of the Eastern Province of Zambia to work as a volunteer with a social enterprise called Zasaka that supports small-scale farmers to generate lasting incomes through pulse and legume seeds production and marketing. The main crops that the farmers produce are cowpea, soybean and groundnut.

Its co-founders Sunday Silungwe and Carl Jensen realized there was a big gap in the seed industry, especially for pulses and legumes, as there were no good quality seed suppliers. This, along with the willingness to help farmers increase their incomes, led them to found Zasaka. 

Sunday Silungwe points out that “the benefits of growing pulses and legumes are immense for the farmers, the market and the environment: it provides nutritional value for their dietary needs and the diversifies food options consume in the household; it supplies a gap of quality seeds for the market; it helps to generate more incomes for the farmers as the production get a high value in the market; it is a crop that gives back nitrogen to the soil and it can improve its fertility and reduces the use of fertilizers, which is one of the aims as the farmers don’t have the capability to afford the bags they need for the fields”

Zambia is characterized by farmers who mainly grow maize. Because of the enormous production and the fluctuating demand, the prices vary and the farmers don’t have a secure influx of money. With the incorporation of pulses and legumes into their fields, they diversify the options and get secure access to markets as Zasaka guarantees the purchase of the farmers’ seeds above prevailing grain market prices.  Zasaka packages and processes the pulse and legume seeds to add value and commercializes them in domestic markets, such as seed companies, NGOs, government agencies, farmer groups and companies producing value-added products. 

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Video: A stable price for a staple crop

15/04/2016

By Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India.

At the 2016 Pulses Conclave in the Indian city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, delegates from around the world gathered to discuss the best way to stabilize and increase the value of pulses to benefit the farmer as well as the consumer. There were experts that spoke on global markets, health and nutrition and the price of pulses. Stabilizing pulse prices will be important through increased productivity, improved storage and value chain integration.

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